• Sainsbury’s backs out of distribution centre at “growth point”

    8th August 2014 | News | Claire
  • Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s will not be following through with the development of a new distribution centre on the outskirts of Exeter.

    Site preparation works for the land at Clyst Honiton were completed last summer.

    But the company has released a statement today confirming that actual construction of the logistics depot will not proceed.

    This brings to a close a 12 month waiting period over the future of the site.

    The development, that would have created hundreds of jobs, was heralded as a huge boost for the region’s economy.

    No details of what may now occupy the site have been released but there was previous speculation that big names such as Amazon could be suitable for the site.

    The supermarket giant cast doubt on the scheme last year when it announced the plans for the 500,000sq ft depot were put on hold.

    It said the development, which would have been almost 10 times the size of the company’s Alphington store, is not needed.

    It would have served 35 supermarkets in the South West, including Devon and Cornwall.

    The Leader of East Devon District Council said he was disappointed at today’s announcement.

    On hearing the news that the site no longer forms part of Sainsbury’s longer term plans for its national distribution network, Councillor Paul Diviani said he was saddened by the decision but aware of the commercial realities in a changing retail economy.

    He said: “I am extremely sorry to hear this news – which is disappointing both for East Devon and the wider region. However, I’m pleased to note that marketing of the site will begin immediately and we will happily work with Sainsbury’s and their development arm to make the most of the enormous commercial and employment opportunity that this important logistics site represents.

    “The considerable work that Sainsbury’s have undertaken in preparing what is now a serviced site means that the lead-in period for securing new development has been substantially reduced. With significant investment in new infrastructure, such as the Clyst Honiton By-pass, and the first jobs coming forward at both Skypark and the Science Park nearby, there is real momentum in the area.

    “There’s also tangible evidence that our vision of delivering employment alongside new homes is now starting to be delivered. We look forward to seeing this site attract new investment and many new jobs to the District”.

    The depot was the first phase in the long-awaited Intermodal Freight Facility, known as Exeter Gateway.

    Around 450 jobs were expected to be created once the facility was up and running. Most workers would have been recruited locally.

    Chairman of Clyst Honiton Parish Council Lynne Askew said: “We are disappointed by the news that Sainsbury’s are no longer planning to build a Distribution Depot at the Clyst Honiton Site. The future of the site is now uncertain. Sainsbury’s had made a substantial investment to develop the site and have invested time and money working with the local parish council with a view of benefitting the local community in the future.

    We hope that EDDC and Sainsbury’s are mindful to continue to involve the community of Clyst Honiton as decisions are taken about the future of this strategic site and would welcome potential new businesses there that have a commitment and expertise of investing and working with and for the local community.”