garden centre and Tesco plans for St Oswald’s Retail Park

?EXCITING? plans for a new Tesco and garden centre have emerged for St Oswald?s Retail Park.

The supermarket giant is planning to build a new store to replace the existing one ? but it will focus more on food rather than household items that compete with the city centre?s shops.

Leading garden centre Dobbies is also being touted for the site, which would be lined with an avenue of trees. The petrol station would be moved to the front of the site and there would be a bigger car park. Much of the site adjacent to the current store is an overgrown wasteland at present.

Plans are being drawn up that are radically different to the ones that were granted permission two years ago, for a ?25million megastore to replace the existing one.

Yesterday Tesco said any plans were still ?months away? but city councillors will discuss land issues surrounding the site at a private meeting next week.

City councillor Paul Toleman (C, Westgate) spoke to residents at St Oswald?s Retirement Village last week about what was coming.

Mr Toleman said: ?We found out that they were thinking to change their previous plans. It is still early days yet but we went to meet residents to keep them in the loop.

?The store won?t be as big as they previously wanted. There has been a lot of contention with the size of Tesco and the problems it creates for the city centre, but this could resolve that and there are other plans for the site.?

A garden centre would not compete with central shops, city council leader Paul James said. He added: ?We want something that isn?t going to compete with the city centre and is in keeping with the type of bulky goods being sold at St Oswald?s already.

?Tesco have had a very public change in their strategy and it is no longer so much about bigger stores but they are going back to concentrating on their core business.?

County councillor Pam Tracey (C, Westgate) said: ?It is not a secret that Tesco are planning to put a planning application in.

?Dobbies Garden Centres would go there and I think it would be wonderful. I also think the plan would really tidy that whole area up.

?A lot of people say they want it to be a grocery store for the people rather than making the store bigger.

?It won?t happen tomorrow but when it does it would certainly enhance the area. It is exciting but I just want to make sure it is what residents want.?

Barry Leach, chairman of the Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership, said: ?I believe that the store size will be very much reduced in its footprint and in what it will sell. Tesco have had a look at their national strategy and I think this is the best outcome we could ask for here in Gloucester. It will benefit the city centre as this had been the main bone of contention in their original plans.

?The idea of a garden centre in that part of the city would be most welcome. It is a nice sort of feature to have in that area, but like always the devil will be in the detail.?

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