WHOLESALER giant Costco says it is not behind plans to open a new warehouse club at Eastern Avenue even though the plans are geared towards opening a new Costco.
City councillors will be asked to refuse the plans for the former Interbrew site on Tuesday.
The plans are for a 13,000 sq ft warehouse club, which sells items in bulk, primarily to businesses but offers individual memberships.
Costco operate differently to wholesalers such as Booker and Makro, which do not offer individual memberships.
Planning officers admit there is ‘confusion’ because the application could not be for anything other than a Costco, yet the firm has confirmed it is not interested in coming to Gloucester.
Nicholas Deeks, director of international real estate at Costco, said: “We are not looking to open in Gloucester at the present time. We have been interested in Gloucester in the past but the city does not presently form part of our short to medium term expansion plans. I do hope that will change, but it will not in the foreseeable future.”
He added that he was ‘perplexed’ by the application since Costco are the only warehouse club operator in the UK. He also confirmed that Costco had not been approached by the developer before the plans were put in.
There are concerns that it could be a ‘ghost’ application to allow for other uses on the site that would not ordinarily have won permission. Aviva, landowners at King’s Square, have objected on this basis.
Arwel Evans, a planner representing Aviva, said: “Aviva are concerned about the impact such a proposal will have on the city centre both as proposed and in the future should the nature of the operation change in the future.”
The plans also include a 450 sq m restaurant. No occupier has been identified, but plans indicated it could be a drive-thru restaurant.
Planners fear the restaurant would take away potential trade from the city centre and the whole application has been recommended for refusal.
The site is currently in use by a distribution firm which employs around 100 people and there are no details on how or when that use would cease. The applicants say the warehouse club would create around 150 jobs and 20 for the restaurant. The site once employed more than 400 people.