THE whole future of Tesco’s new Cupar store hangs in the balance after the supermarket giant revealed it will not be built this year.
Enquiries by the Fife Herald have revealed the retailer has delayed building work and will review its plans in January next year.
A spokesperson said: “We have reviewed our scheme in Cupar and following these internal discussions we have made the difficult decision to delay the building of the new store.
“The store has been delayed by 12 months and we will review the decision again in January 2013.
“We understand that this decision will disappoint many people.
“That is unfortunate but we are still committed to bringing a new and improved store to Cupar and hope to do this in early 2013.”
Concern had been expressed locally that with a drop in the company’s Christmas profits and a reduction in the current store opening times, the company would back out of plans for the larger store.
Permission for the new store — on the site of the former Reekie’s garage in South Road — was granted in May 2009 and with it the promise of up to 250 jobs.
But since then nothing has happened apart from the retailer giving a series of assurances that work would begin soon.
The most recent update from the company said work would begin this spring with the store being ready for opening before Christmas 2012.
In 2003, Tesco said it was planning the new store because it has received significant information from customers that they wanted a wider range of products in Cupar.
A spokesperson said at the time: “There is clear evidence that more and more of our own customers are travelling to the larger Tesco store in Dundee because of this.
“We would rather have local people spend money locally in Cupar and that is the reasoning behind this fresh planning application.”
The chair of Fife Council’s north east Fife area committee, Councillor Andrew Arbuckle, said this week’s news was very disappointing, particularly given the number of jobs the company proposed to create.
He said: “The Tesco application was not universally welcomed, but it did go through the planning process with the expectation that the store would be built.
“It is now some time since permission was granted and nothing has happened.
“I hope gaining consent was not just a tactical move by Tesco to land-bank the site.
“Councillors were told there was the possibility of 250 jobs and this did have a part to play in considering the application, so this is not good news for Cupar.
“I wonder what would happen if another major retailer were to come in with an application?”
Cupar councillor Bryan Poole, who has been pressing Tesco to come clean over its plans for some time, said: “Tesco has falsely implied in the past that Fife Council was to blame for the delay but no-one can believe that any longer.
“Their behaviour is unfair to Cupar, unfair to other traders in the town, and unfair to their own staff who have no idea what the future holds.
“It’s time for them to put up — or move out of Cupar and allow some other supermarket access to their current site.”