SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s has moved to stop its rival Tesco opening a bigger store in Bicester.
Construction of a Sainsbury’s supermarket, cinema, shops and restaurants is under way as part of the £70m town centre redevelopment.
Last Thursday, councillors had been recommended to approve separate but co-ordinated planning applications to expand outlet shopping centre Bicester Village and build a new Tesco opposite its current position off the A41, with Bicester Village opening 28 new shops in its place.
The Tesco and Bicester Village plans will also lead to £11m in road improvements on the A41, Oxford Road and Pingle Drive in a move that would cut chronic congestion at peak times.
But the decision was deferred after Sainsbury’s submitted proposals for an alternative Bicester Village expansion plan.
Sainsbury’s said there is no need for Tesco to move and it has come up with a proposal for Bicester Village to expand on to scrubland to the north-east of the site.
Sainsbury’s said it would create better links and draw more people to Bicester town centre.
Four options for road improvements have also been put forward including widening Pingle Drive, adding traffic lights at the Middleton Stoney/Oxford Road junction, building a new access to Bicester Village from the A41, or building an access road from Oxford Road across the rugby field.
Sainsbury’s also said once its new store had opened, it expects there will be a 33 per cent decrease in traffic going to Tesco.
But the plans have been dismissed by Bicester Village as “neither practical nor viable”.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “We believe this option clearly represents a credible and sensible alternative to the Bicester Village planning application, which seeks to direct their extension away from the town centre.
“This option should now be fully considered by the council as part of their current work on the Local Plan, Bicester Masterplan and before any decision is taken on the current applications submitted by Tesco and Bicester Village which will be to the detriment of town centre businesses.”
Miranda Markham, community relations director at Bicester Village, said: “Our proposals have been extensively researched over a period of years to provide sustainable growth for an expanding town along with very significant benefits to the road infrastructure.
“The alternative site proposed by Sainsbury’s for the Bicester Village extension, along with suggested access arrangements, is neither practical nor viable.”
A Tesco spokesman said its new store would mean people did not have to travel out of town to shop.
He said: “We also know from the feedback received that the road improvements and better access associated with the project are widely welcomed by customers and the community in Bicester.”
Last month, Sainsbury’s submitted a planning application to increase the floor sales space of its new store by 30 per cent in a bid to compete with Tesco.