MORE than five years after a Poole Co-op burnt to the ground in a mystery blaze, negotiations are still being held over its future.
Residents are still being served in a temporary cabin in the site, a situation described as “disgraceful” with many complaining of cramped conditions, limited choice and its unsuitability for wheelchair users.
Despite planning approvals in 2008 for a new store, a renewal in February this year and a new application approved in April, a new store has still not been built in Blandford Road, Hamworthy, to replace the supermarket that burnt down in late summer 2007. The Co-op has now applied for its fourth renewal of the cabin – for a further year while it holds talks with Poole planners about changes to its latest proposal for a new store and a commercial unit.
Fred Winwood, chairman of Hamside Residents Association said: “It’s disgraceful. They have these planning permissions and work was going to start last May. They have done nothing about it.”
He said: “If they have problems, get them sorted. We need that store.”
Ward councillor Charmaine Parkinson said residents had complained to her of limited stock, that the premises were not fit for purpose and the condition of the building was poor.
“Alongside this there is a lot of frustration and many residents now go into town to do their shopping and won’t support the Co-op any more as they feel ‘let down’,” she said.
“I am also hearing various residents say that if the Co-op had already built their premises they wouldn’t be in the position they are today of being challenged by another possible supermarket in Hamworthy,” she added.
A spokesman for Co-operative Food said: “We continue to progress our plans for a new store in Hamworthy and we are committed to serving the local community. However, in light of the council’s apparent support for plans for a large out-of-town development on the former power station site, we don’t expect our original plans to be viable. Therefore we are currently in talks with the council about possible revisions.
“In the meantime, we have applied for an extension to the permission for our temporary food store in order to be able to continue offering local people quality products and a high standard of customer service.
“We would like to thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.”