Plans to open a supermarket at a city centre shopping mall could be scrapped this week in the latest battle over Cardiff council’s controversial saturation zone policy.
Tesco has applied for a licence to sell alcohol as part of plans to open a new supermarket branch at Capitol Shopping Centre on Queen Street.
But South Wales Police will oppose the booze licence bid when it is considered by Cardiff councillors on Friday.
The new grocery store is located within the Churchill Way saturation zone, which makes it difficult for businesses to gain alcohol licences as any plans trigger an automatic objection from the police.
Capitol Shopping Centre’s owners say plans for the supermarket could collapse if councillors refused to grant the booze licence.
Emma Trinder, from the centre’s owners Moorfield Group Ltd, said in a letter to the council: “The approval of the Tesco licensing application is essential to their business – they will not agree to open a new store without a licence in place.”
Capitol has suffered a loss of tenants and substantial drop in footfall due to tough market conditions and competition from St David’s.
But Tesco has agreed to enter into a 20-year lease at Capitol – taking over three units formerly occupied by Virgin Mega Store – if the application is successful.
Ms Trinder said: “This would have a significant and positive impact on the Capitol and wider benefits for the town centre as a whole.”
She added: “We would urge the council to respond positively to this potential investment in the city centre and to approve this application.”
Tesco licensing manager Greg Bartley said the store would operate a “challenge 25” policy, not stock any beer or cider with an alcohol level above 5.5% and, on event days, not sell booze in glass vessels, unless part of a “meal deal”.
The case is the latest battle ground of Cardiff council’s saturation zone policy. Police figures show violent crime has more than halved on St Mary Street since it became the capital’s first saturation zone.
The scheme has since been expanded to City Road, and more recently to Churchill Way and Greyfriars Road, but critics say it has only shifted alcohol-fuelled crime to other parts of Cardiff.
In February, it was revealed that more than £23,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent unsuccessfully defending Cardiff council’s saturation zone policy in court.
Magistrates overturned 12 decisions by the council’s licensing sub-committee not to grant alcohol licences to premises in the past three years, seven of which were in saturation zones.
The St Mary Street/High Street zone had been successfully challenged in the courts by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Floyds Cafe Bar and Bunkhouse hostel.