GETTING a supermarket built in the Forest of Dean is harder than you might think.
Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco will all testify to that, having each had efforts scuppered or severely delayed by legal challenges, protective rivals and various loopholes.
But one that does now finally look to be on track is Asda’s long-running bid to bring a store to Steam Mills Road in Cinderford.
It’s already had to resubmit its proposals once after a court challenge from the Co-op, which has its own supermarket in the town, was upheld. But the new plans have cleared a major hurdle this week, with news that the Government has decided against ‘calling in’ the scheme for closer scrutiny.
There’s now a six-week period during which another legal challenge could be lodged, but if no such contest emerges, Asda hopes to have spades in the ground as early as this summer.
If it does go ahead, it will secure a near-£500,000 cash pot for improvements to the town centre too, all part of Cinderford’s long-awaited regeneration.
Resident Amanda Watkins has been campaigning with pressure group Asda for Cinderford for the retailer to be allowed to build since the first hiccups occurred after its initial 2011 planning application.
She said: “I’m a lot more optimistic now than I was a month ago, it’s really good news that it won’t be called in.
“As a group, we have written to the Co-op’s new chairman pointing out that Cinderford desperately needs the jobs. We hope they don’t challenge it again.
“An Asda will be a Godsend for Cinderford, it will bring competition and choice.”
Asda still has to submit a more detailed reserved matters planning application but a spokesman said: “We are pleased to hear that our application for a new store in Cinderford will not be called in by the Secretary of State. Subject to final planning approvals, we will aim to begin work on the new store in the summer.”
Patrick Molyneux, leader of Forest of Dean District Council, said: “We have now received confirmation from the Secretary of State that he will not be calling in the outline application for the Steam Mills development in Cinderford.
“This has allowed us to release the outline planning permission which is subject to a legal agreement that secures £487,150 towards town centre enhancements and other mitigation.”