Store plan could lead to cash for town
THE ARRIVAL of a third supermarket in Penzance could serve as a financial boost for the town centre, according to the head of its chamber of commerce.
Dick Cliffe is hopeful that the money released from a so-called Section 106 agreement, a condition of Sainsbury's planning consent, released before the store is built, will raise hundreds of thousands for the town.
After discussions with Cornwall Council and Penzance Town Council earlier this year, Sainsbury's agreed to pay £152,000 to subsidise parking and an additional £250,000 on improvements, promotion and a town centre co-ordinator, with the aim of supporting the area and bringing in more business.
Proposals also include £35,000 towards a Business Improvement District (BID) which, if established, would generate money for the town, although companies would have to pay towards the scheme.
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BIDs, which are funded through a one or two per cent levy, reinvest money in a specified area of a town if a majority of the total rateable value of all votes cast are in favour of it.
Mr Cliffe, who has been a proponent of the introduction of a third supermarket, said he did not think there would be a significant detrimental impact for the town centre's independent traders.
He added that a successful BID scheme would enable direct investment in the town centre, including a town centre manager.
He said: "Penzance is still a significant retail centre for the area, not just for Penzance but the whole of Penwith as far as Helston.
"The independent traders have already become accustomed to the presence of two out-of-centre supermarkets.
"If the BID scheme is successful it will, over five years, bring more than £1.5m, if it averaged at £135,000 a year."
Part of the Section 106 agreement also included £1.2 million towards a park-and-ride scheme; £115,000 for bus stops at its store; £130,000 for a toucan crossing on the A30; £25,000 to subsidise bus fares between the store and town centre; and around £50,000 for improved transport links in the local area.
Penzance town councillor Dennis Axford said: "If we get a BID we have got to look at traffic, parking, not just how much is charged but how we charge."
A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "The money must be spent in accordance with the areas set out in the Section 106 agreement. However, Sainsbury's and British International agreed these areas with the town council, parish council and Cornwall Council."