Rival schemes battle to develop north of Plymouth
A MULTIMILLION-pound row has begun over the future of the north of Plymouth.
A major planning appeal is due to start next week which will have huge implications for the re-development of Derriford – including where a massive supermarket is built.
As superstore chains eye the area, developer Wharfside Regeneration (Devon) Limited is hauling Plymouth City Council in front of a Planning Inspectorate hearing to contest the authority's decision to refuse its £150million masterplan.
The company wants to build a supermarket alongside 356 homes, shops, restaurants, residential and non-residential care facilities and a car park, on the 16.5 acre North West Quadrant, next to the hospital.
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However, the council has earmarked the nearby Seaton Barracks Parade Ground as its preferred site for a district shopping centre – and one anchored by a 7,000sq metre superstore.
Meanwhile, the council said the closed airport, also just a stone's throw away, "remains designated as airport land", despite Sutton Harbour Holdings this month releasing its masterplan for that 113-acre site – which also included a supermarket.
Wharfside has already spent £300,000 and seven years in negotiations and consultation with the council about the North West Quadrant plan.
The appeal could last up to 17 days and the council has set aside £200,000 to cover associated costs.
It is understood a leading supermarket operator is supporting the Wharfside appeal.
Meanwhile another superstore, Morrisons, has told The Herald it is in talks to move into Derriford, but did not specify which site.
Wharfside bought the North West Quandrant site, for a reported £13million in 2006, from Plymouth Hospitals (NHS) Trust.
At that time the area, which contained nursing accommodation and other buildings including the Rowan's Unit, was recommended for the "new heart" for Derriford and Seaton.
London-based S333 Architecture + Urbanism were appointed after competition and produced a masterplan presented at a public consultation in 2008.
A Wharfside spokesman said there were "months of discussions" with the council and the scheme received the backing of "a major PLC development partner having the required full finance".
But in July last year, the council's planning committee rejected the plan.
A spatial planning co-ordinator, told councillors the scheme would undermine plans for a major shopping centre at the Seaton Barracks site.
That came a month after the council acquired former Regional Development Agency land including the vacant plot at Seaton Barracks.
"Wharfside is appealing, stating that NWQ is the natural location with excellent public transport facilities and where most retailers would prefer to be located and supported by the major adjoining owners," the Wharfside spokesman said.
"It was the preferred location for the new heart for the area in 2005/06," he said, and added that the firm still think it "the right location for a mixed-use development allowing major inward investment and creation of many new jobs".
Meanwhile, Morrisons has revealed it wants to build a store at Derriford.
The firm said that within 18 months the city was expected to be accommodating two large supermarket plans, including a rebuilt Tesco at Transit Way, already reported in The Herald, and creation of a new store at Derriford.
Morrisons spokesman Munish Chopra said Morrisons and another leading supermarket had "bid for it" but other chains could be interested too.
He was unable to be specific about the exact site.
The council said the "new heart" for north Plymouth is a key aim of the revised Pre-Submission Derriford and Seaton Area Action Plan (AAP).
The final consultation stage finished at the end of last month and the council is preparing a document, containing shopping centre details, to be submitted to the Secretary of State.
If agreed at a public examination scheduled for early 2013, the initial phases of the district centre will be "on the former Seaton Barracks Parade Ground site", a council spokesman said.
"We would fully expect supermarkets to express interest in this site as the purpose of these development documents is to give developers certainty about designated uses for particular areas," he added.
"We would however not be in a position to say which supermarkets have shown interest.
"The airport land remains designated as airport land," he stressed.
He said the council was concerned the appeal could "pre-empt key decisions that will shape the future of the Derriford area" and that Wharfside's plans does not deliver the homes, jobs and community facilities the council wants. "The council does not intend for the appeal to affect the timetable of the AAP," he said.
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