Yet more delay in Lowfield Street Tesco saga as demolition work stalls

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The demolition of Lowfield Street in Dartford to make way for Tesco may not begin until September in the latest in 12 years of delays.

The supermarket chain promised demolition work would start by the end of July but there is still no sign of any of the buildings being pulled down.

And it could be another three weeks until the decaying façades of the old shops finally start to tumble as contractors carry out preparatory works and wait for gas and electricity to be disconnected.

Osman Hussein, 43, is the manager of Dartford Dry Cleaners opposite the condemned row of buildings.

He told News Shopper: "It’s just the same as before with the waiting and the waiting.

News Shopper:

Lowfield Street as it looks today. 

"It’s been 12 years so the word delay doesn’t come into it really and we just can’t wait for it to get started.

"I’m disappointed. It’s just going round in circles."

Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite said: "People like to think of demolition as the walls crumbling down but you have got to give the contractors time to do what they need to do to get the demolition underway.

"That said I have absolute sympathy with people who say there’s been a delay.

"We have got to keep the pressure on Tesco every single day.

News Shopper: An artists' impression of Tesco's development in Dartford

The original artists' impression of the Tesco development in 2011.

"Part of my job is to chase them to ensure they are not slacking.

"There will be slow phases and there will be fast phases of the process but they are on site and they are at work."

Dartford Labour group spokesman Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said: "This latest delay shows that the Conservative council just isn’t on top of the situation in Lowfield Street.

"In July, the leader of the council assured us that demolition work had already begun.

"Now In August we have Tesco saying they want to start as soon as possible.

"This confusion between Tesco and the council is causing uncertainty for residents and businesses.

"The council needs to be clear with residents, but up to now we’ve not had that at all.

"It’s important to remember that the council has failed to get a firm commitment from Tesco as to when they will begin to build the store, rather than just demolish the site.

"I think it is fair to say there is still a large amount of uncertainty about this scheme and this confusion about the start of the demolition just adds to that.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We’re keen to start the demolition as soon as possible and appointed a demolition contractor for the work several months ago.

“Unfortunately it is taking longer than anticipated to secure the permits we need to relocate bats and birds on the site, and to terminate services such as gas and electricity so that the buildings can be demolished safely.

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to move things forward and we’ll keep the local community closely updated on progress.”

Lowfield Street delays

  • 2002- development of Lowfield Street by Tesco is first mooted.
  • 2004-2006- plans for a 161,000sq ft Tesco hypermarket are rejected.
  • 2008-2011- the £300 million Lowfield Vision project for a 120,000sq ft Tesco and 934 homes comes to nought as the recession starts to bite.
  • November 2011- an £80million plan to create 400 full-time jobs at a 24hour Tesco Extra store and 231 homes is approved by the council, but Tesco stalls on construction.
  • September 2013- scaled down plans for an 8,000sq m Tesco and 34 one-bed and 73 two-bed flats get the nod from the council.
  • June 2014: Tesco announces demolition of 26 to 142 Lowfield Street will start next month.

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Comments (1)

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7:41pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Cet2514 says...

Bet Sainbury's is happy with delay. Dartford has suffered long enough and with the ever increasing empty shops it can only get worse.
Bet Sainbury's is happy with delay. Dartford has suffered long enough and with the ever increasing empty shops it can only get worse. Cet2514
  • Score: 1

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