A breakthrough in the future of the derelict Waitrose store in St Martin’s Street has been marked after plans for 22 retirement flats and two shops were unveiled by developers.
The town centre building has been the subject of bids to reopen it as a supermarket, turn the space into Wallingford’s own covered market, or convert it into flats during the 11 years it has remained empty.
Wallingford-based retirement developer Beechcroft Developments has announced plans and revealed early designs to demolish the site and build flats, two shops and 24 parking places.
The developers met with Wallingford Town Council last month alongside architects Hunter Page Planning to unveil their plans.
The designs are due to go on display in a public consultation later this month.
Mayor of Wallingford Lynda Atkins called the plans ‘the best option for the site’ she had seen.
She added: “We’re very happy with what we’ve seen so far and we’re anxiously waiting the final designs.
“Parking was always going to be a big concern for us with this kind of development and Beechcroft have delivered in that regard.”
Each flat would have its own parking space and the retail units would also have one each.
Cllr Atkins added: “I feel that Beechcroft really thought about these ideas, they are not spur of the moment plans.”
Beechcroft’s land director Duncan Morris said a planning application for the site would be submitted next month, and if approved, work could begin on the site by the end of the year.
Mr Morris said: “I think the town council trust us, as being based in the town we understand the history of the site and what it means to residents that it is still derelict.
“The council seemed to be happy with the designs and we will be bringing out fresher designs to the people of Wallingford in a consultation later this month.”
The developers, based in Church Lane, acquired the site in December after striking a deal with London-based City and Provincial Properties, who failed to provide an option for the site in discussions with South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).
Town councillor Ros Lester said she was ‘very impressed’ with the designs for the site.
She told the Guardian: “They brought along some preliminary drawings which were very impressive.
“I’m also very happy with the idea that the flats will be specific to elderly residents as it seems the perfect place for them, giving its proximity to the town centre.”
The shop has been vacant since supermarket chain Waitrose relocated to the top of St Martin’s Street in 2005.