CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a new Tesco in Bridgwater are still up in the air 18 months on since the project was given the green light.

Cllr Ian Tucker, who has long opposed the project, questioned Sedgemoor District Council bosses at a heated meeting on Wednesday, July 23, regarding the section 106 agreement to build the Northgate store.

He told the Mercury: “It’s been 18 months since planning permission was passed and people are asking me what is going on.

“We know it’s the 106 which is holding it up, but we don't know what part.

“Meanwhile Bridgwater is missing out on other big names such as M&S in Taunton and a leisure complex at J27.

This type of new investment could have gone on the Northgate site, but instead we have Tesco, which has given no definite start date.”

But SDC leader Cllr Duncan McGinty said work on the new store will begin in 2015 and could be complete by 2016.

He said: “The Section 106 Agreement is an important document that both the applicant (Tesco) and the Local Planning Authority (SDC) and Highway Authority (SCC) need to be comfortable with.

“The agreement has been with Tesco for a while now and while Tesco’s solicitors have confirmed they believe the 106 is “nearly there”, they have also confirmed there has been a delay due to internal restructuring within Tesco which has resulted in some changes to the team from whom Tesco’s solicitors take their instructions.

“This has delayed them being able to take instructions.”

The council will discuss if they need to ‘formally press for completion’.

He added: “The council, or indeed anyone, can never be 100% confident that any agreement it enters into cannot be reneged upon. However, the Development Agreement is a contract, the terms of which are clear and like any other contract any non-compliance would be breach of contract which gives rise to legal remedies.”

When council members put forward the idea of using the land for leisure facilities, Mr McGinty said: “The potential for leisure facilities has been looked at before and not found to be commercially attractive.”

An update is due to be given to the development committee on August 5.