Controversial plans to bring a Co-operative supermarket to Pontcanna have been thrown into confusion, after the supermarket chain said it had no intention of opening in the area – despite a developer’s claims to the contrary.
YourCardiff reported on Monday that residents were preparing for a second time to fight plans for a supermarket on the site of the former Pontcanna Pine warehouse in King’s Road, Canton, after developer Chris Voyle resubmitted proposals to Cardiff Council.
Planning officers had previously recommended Mr Voyle’s proposals be refused after strong opposition from local residents and businesses, including a petition of more than 2,500 signatures. But Mr Voyle recently renewed his application to the local authority, via an agent, along with a statement saying Heads of Terms have been signed with the Co-op, and identifying the supermarket chain as the “named operator”.
However, the Co-Op insisted today that they had no intention of opening a supermarket at the site on King’s Road, and had sent a representative to a public meeting on Monday to make this clear to residents.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative Food said: “We would like to make it clear that we have no intention to open a food store on the site of the Pontcanna Pine warehouse on King’s Road, Canton.
“Mike Ash-Edwards, regional secretary for The Co-operative Group in Wales attended a meeting with local residents yesterday (Monday 15 October) to clarify our position.”
Riverside councillor Iona Gordon, who has been backing the residents’ campaign in her ward, said Mr Ash-Edwards told around 60 residents gathered at St Catherine’s Church Hall that the “logistical aspects and the finances” of a Co-op on the Pontcanna Pine site “do not stand up, and it was not a site they would consider operating from”.
But in a statement to YourCardiff tonight, Mr Voyle would not be drawn on the Co-op’s comments.
He said: “I was not present at the public meeting and have not spoken with the Co-op in respect of any comments and have no wish to enter into a debate in the press on this issue.”
Campaigners have objected to Mr Voyle’s proposals because of concerns that the opening of a supermarket on the site will “exacerbate” traffic problems in the area, and hurt independent retailers.
But in his statement, Mr Voyle also said that his latest planning submission for the 198 square metre (just over 2,000 square feet) store had fully addressed the issues raised by planning officers in terms of car parking, traffic impact, retail impact and design.
He said the finished development would be in keeping with the street scene, and create up to 25 full and part time retail jobs, as well as around 60 construction jobs during the building work.
He also said that there would be “little crossover” between the development and other businesses in the area, and that a new food store would complement them rather than compete with them.
He added: “I do not consider that there is any planning reason why this development should not go ahead, particularly as the site already benefits from unrestricted retail planning permission of twice the size of that being proposed as part of this development.”
But Coun Gordon said campaigners were prepared to stand up against the proposals once again.
She said: “We say that the developers have made a deliberate ploy to say it was the Co-op because they thought we would have a good feeling about it. But we feel just the same whatever business it is. Businesses are just not suited to that site.”