Waitrose will not be coming to Oakham

OAKHAM will not be getting a Waitrose store.

Developers had agreed with Tresham College that they would buy the land where Rutland County College is sited in Barleythorpe Road to build a branch of the upmarket supermarket chain.

But Waitrose announced on Wednesday that Tresham had pulled out of the agreement and decided to sell to another developer.

No one at Tresham was available to comment this week about the identity of the new developer or why it made its decision.

Waitrose had held extensive consultations with the public and said 96 per cent of people who commented approved of its plans.

The company, part of the John Lewis Partnership, had intended to submit its plans for a 15,000sq ft supermarket to Rutland County Council later this month.

The initial developer, the Lindum Group, had been encouraged by the county council’s rejection of Sainsbury’s plans for a store near the bypass as part of Hawksmead’s Oakham North development.

Lindum said the council’s decision had given it the green light to go ahead with its plans.

Lindum director Chris Callaghan said: “Having worked hard to design a store that could meet the needs of local people and deliver long-term benefits to the town, the decision of the college is extremely disappointing and we would encourage it to reconsider.”

Waitrose director of development Nigel Keen said it too was disappointed.

“Waitrose has a long-standing ambition to open a store in Oakham and having worked with the community to establish a proposal that would be beneficial to Oakham, it is with regret that we may now have to explore options elsewhere,” he said.

Sainsbury’s had been waiting to hear the outcome of the Waitrose application before lodging an appeal against the refusal of its plans. Its store would have been twice the size of that planned by Waitrose. Both companies had said they would not develop if the other was approved.

Sainsbury’s development executive Robert Oxley said: “Following the refusal of our application earlier this year for a new store, we’re continuing to work with Hawksmead to look at all other options.”

Rutland County College will move to a new site in Barleythorpe when its lease with Tresham expires next year. Some of the money from the sale of the site will go towards the development of the new college.