Stevenage Costco: No progress two years on from planning permission

PUBLISHED: 11:38 22 February 2018

Costco in Enfield, Connecticut. Picture: Mike Mozart

Costco in Enfield, Connecticut. Picture: Mike Mozart

Archant

Where is the Stevenage Costco? That’s the question many are asking, two years after the cash-and-carry giant received the green light for a 14,030-square-metre megastore.

The John Lewis depot site off Stevenage's Gunnels Wood Road, where Costco have planning permission for a new store. Picture: Harry HubbardThe John Lewis depot site off Stevenage's Gunnels Wood Road, where Costco have planning permission for a new store. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Stevenage Borough Council gave consent for Costco to build on the John Lewis depot site in Cavendish Road on March 1, 2016, prompting an enormous and mostly positive public response.

Costco’s James Cheesemore initially told the Comet the firm hoped to open the wholesale store off Gunnels Wood Road in “the summer of 2017”. He revised this last March to “the latter half of 2018”, and did not respond when we asked why there was a delay.

When the Comet again contacted the American company this week, a spokeswoman said: “It is our company policy to not comment regarding future Costco warehouses until we are ready to share details about the new location.” She added that this was usually two or three months in advance.

The former depot appears unchanged from the day planning permission was granted two years ago, and even still bears the John Lewis name on its front.

The apparent lack of progress comes after Costco decided to focus on existing stores. Last month it confirmed it would not be going ahead with plans to build a new store in High Wycombe, where it owned a site and had planning permission.

The Costco plans approved unanimously by Stevenage Borough Council’s planning committee in 2016 were for a members-only warehouse club with parking for 611 cars.

Supporters of the store said it could bring up to 250 new jobs over the next five years, as well as new trade and investment into Stevenage.

Opponents, mostly living in Angotts Mead on the other side of Gunnels Wood Road, argued that the development could clog up the area with unmanageable traffic and pollution – a view shared at the time by council leader Sharon Taylor, who unsuccessfully urged the planning committee to reject the application.

Under the Costco plans the building would retain its Grade II-listed idiosyncratic reinforced concrete roof, designed by the noted architect Felix Candela.

The main entry point would be on the site’s northern side, from Gunnels Wood Road. A junction with traffic lights would be created next to it.

The closest existing Costco store to Stevenage is its Watford branch, which also houses Costco UK’s head office.

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