In Sunderland, Tesco’s ownership of the site of the former Vaux Brewery caused problems for Sunderland City Council in promoting its own plans for the land. Sunderland's Local Plan backs use of the land for employment and housing, in line with proposals submitted by regeneration company Sunderland Arc.
Tesco, as landowner of the Vaux Brewery site, submitted its own planning application for a 112,000 sq ft store, and in October 2005 appealed the Council's failure to decide on its application. A Public Inquiry took place into Sunderland Arc's plans in July 2006. In April 2007 the Inspector advised against Sunderland Arc's application, but Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State, approved it. However, the application then rested on a Judicial Review launched by Tesco into the Government's decision and the results of a parallel public inquiry into the Council's Unitary Development Plan (UDP). The results of the public inquiry into the UDP were published on 7th August 2007, and in the report the Government planning inspector ruled against any large scale shopping development on the Vaux site and rubberstamped the council's plan to regenerate the site as a mixed use development, in line with the arc's proposals.
It is also reported that Tesco is continuing discussions with the Council and Sunderland arc re the former Vaux Brewery site. See also an article in Property Week, 10th September 2008. And on the 22nd September 2008 the Sunderland Echo reported that Tesco want to develop the Vaux Brewery site alongside Sunderland arc.
In March 2009, Mountview Securities, a developer who owns land at Sunderland Retail Park in Roker submitted an application for a massive new Tesco store and 1,000 car parking spaces on the site. In June 2010 Tesco confirmed it is focused on plans to build a supermarket at the site. In October the planning and highways committee approved Tesco's proposals for Sunderland Retail Park. The Government Office North East has decided not to call in the planning application for the 8,378 sq m net retail area superstore (16,140 sq m gross external area).
Tesco also announced it will sell the Vaux site to One NorthEast (Regional Development Agency) so that it can develop the former brewery site into a thriving business district. Please see an article in the Sunderland Echo, 21st June 2010. The final exchange of contracts with Tesco was agreed between Sunderland City Council, regional development agency One North East and the Homes and Communities Agency on 25th February 2011.
For further information, see coverage of Kelly's decision, the Inquiry, and the applications, and an Observer feature on regeneration in Sunderland and coverage in the Sunderland Arc's news.