Published:
January 21, 2016
MP: Burnham's Morrisons site could be turned into tourist attraction

Burnham-On-Sea's MP says the town's former Morrisons site is well suited to becoming a new indoor leisure facility or tourist attraction if no replacement supermarket can be found.

Speaking exclusively to Burnham-On-Sea.com, James Heappey has warned that it's important to spend time to find the right replacement for the site.

"I am concerned that we shouldn't simply fill the building with a new retailer as quickly as possible. We have got to make sure that it is the right sort of retailer because Burnham High Street has adjusted over the past 20 or so years to the fact that there has been a supermarket at this end of the town selling groceries," he said.

"If we now bring in someone who sells TV, fridges, hardware and clothes - someone like a Wilkinsons - then that would directly compete against some of the businesses already here and push them out as well, just as the butchers and bakers have gone already."

"I am really concerned that we should be careful about what we wish for. We want to be sure that either time is spent getting the right retailer into that building as it is, or a discussion is held about what else could be there that would compliment the town, not compete with it."

"We need to be careful and strategic about what we put there."

Asked what type of store he could see working well in place of Morrisons, he said: "A grocer would not compete with what's already here - it's a like-for-like replacement for Morrisons - that would be great but I think it's unlikely."

"Tesco, Lidl and Asda are out of the running because they're already here, and I think it's unlikely we'll see a Sainburys or Waitrose, but I think Aldi could come and have a go where Morrisons has failed. It could be that you see something completely different, something like a PC World which wouldn't compete with any existing shops."

He continued: "There is an argument, though, that in a seaside resort the site becoming vacant is an opportunity to look at some sort of indoor leisure facility or tourist attraction that broadens the town's tourist appeal and complements the High Street - it would be something that would also generate footfall in the High Street."

"This is an opportunity to discuss the site strategically rather than rush in immediately to put in something that might in the long term end up doing more harm than good," he said.

It comes as Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade and Commerce holds a meeting for town centre businesses to discuss several business topics including the future of the Morrisons site with the MP this Friday (January 22nd).

Morrisons closed down its Pier Street store at the end of last November with the loss of dozens of jobs. Rumours have been circulating since that several retailers are interested in taking over the site, but none have so far materialised.

Also see:
Video: Mayor thanks staff at Burnham's Morrisons store as it shuts
Council 'confident' that Burnham Morrisons store won't be empty long
Burnham's MP meets campaigners battling to save Morrisons store
Burnham Morrisons staff told store will shut at the end of November
Protest held over Burnham Morrisons closure at council debate
Morrisons to close its Burnham-On-Sea store

 


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