Planning setback could see council left in dark over depot move

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A multi-million pound relocation of a Yorkshire council’s depot is due to be approved despite a risk that supermarket giant Tesco could be forced to pull out of financing the proposed overhaul due to a planning setback.

In what has been dubbed as one of Scarborough Council’s “biggest developments in decades”, the authority is proposing to spend £3.69m on moving its Dean Road depot to a former gas board site at the Queen Margaret’s Industrial Estate.

The development is set to be funded by Tesco after the council formerly agreed to sell the site to the supermarket, which is gearing up to start work on building a new megastore on Dean Road after the scheme was given the go-ahead in December.

The council has already set the wheels in motion in relocating to the new site - with £220,000 earmarked to fund the initial planning and design of the new depot.

However, the authority has admitted that plans to spend the money and push forward with building the new facility carries a risk due to Tesco awaiting a final decision by the Secretary of State to allow the new supermarket to go ahead, as well as permission to close Trafalgar Street West - a road which runs through the development.

The council agreed with Tesco that it would vacate the site upon the supermaket being granted approval despite the decision being cloaked in uncertainty.

But in a report that is due to go before the authority’s cabinet next month, officers say there is “no option” other than to commit to spending money in preparing the new site in order to meet Tesco’s request if the scheme goes ahead as planned.

Coun Mike Cockerill, Scarborough Council cabinet member for harbours, land and project management, said: “If the Secretary of State decided Tesco couldn’t close Trafalgar Street West it may mean that Tesco wouldn’t want the site because it would be split in half because of the road. Then we would have to look at possibly re-marketing the site.

“If this happens it’s a whole new ball game in terms of financing the new facility. I would imagine the site will be re marketed but the question would be whether it would achieve such an amount of capital receipt as it will be a fairly small parcel of land. The two areas together are a far better area of land to develop. If it is reduced by 50 per cent it could put some of the larger developers off.

“The question is would it drive as much benefits for the borough council and that largely depends on the economic climate. It’s all if and buts at the moment. It is totally out of the hands of the council and out of the hands of Tesco.”

Coun Cockerill said it could be up to a year before Tesco finds out whether it will be allowed to close Trafalgar Street West.

Meanwhile, the council will start work on planning the new site, which will see the facility down-sized after the authority took over highways responsibilities from North Yorkshire County Council, which meant the current depot is now too large. It could be open by March 2013 if the scheme goes ahead as planned.

Coun Cockerill said: “It’s a major development for the council. It allows us to gain a capital receipt by the sale of the Dean Road site but it’s also a double win enabling us to rationalise the facility’s working processes and make more economic use of out resources.”

Scarborough Council is also planning to relocate its Whitby depot to a shared site with the county council on the Stainsacre Industrial Estate, which is set to cost £680,000.

Coun Cockerill said: “The Whitby development is far more positive because the sale of the old Stakesby Road deptot is freeing up for housing development which is going to be a big thing. It’s going to tidy up that site and it’s going to generate a cash receipt for the borough council some of which will be used to build a new depot on land which is already owned by us and it next to the new county council depot. It will rationalise working practices and resources. That’s a very positive win- win.”