THE public car park outside Waitrose in Christchurch could be sold to the supermarket’s landlord in an effort to keep the chain in the town.

Concerns have been raised about the performance of the store, partly blamed on a lack of control of the car park and the business has threatened to refuse to renew its lease without it.

In response, BCP Council has drawn up plans to sell the Bypass car park for an undisclosed sum to its landlord, a General Motors pension fund.

Backing for the deal will be sought from the council’s cabinet next month before its full council makes a final decision on approval in April.

Waitrose has operated from Bargates since it took over from the Co-op in 2007 as part of the latter’s strategy of focusing on its smaller convenience stores.

Since 2010, its landlord has been G M Investment Trustees Limited, part of General Motors’ UK pension fund which bought the site for £13.7 million.

But the arrangement with BCP Council owning the Bypass car park, used by its customers, has been blamed for the “poorer” performance of the supermarket, according to a report by council estates manager Sam Munnings.

“The freeholder is negotiating a surrender and regrant to secure Waitrose on site for a further 15 years,” his report adds.

“Gaining control of the car park is pivotal to this agreement as Waitrose are unwilling to renew their lease and stay in Christchurch if the landlord could not gain control of the car park.”

A provisional agreement has been drawn up for the sale although the sum the council would receive has not been made public.

It does not include the land between the car park and the river and the council will have a buy-back clause should it no longer be needed as a car park.

An impact assessment says the deal would have a positive impact on the economy of Christchurch Town Centre and reduce the need for people to travel further afield.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the sale when they meet on March 10 and recommend that the full council gives final sign-off when it meets at the end of April.