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Red letter day as Waitrose to return to town

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: March 01, 2012

LOCATION: The Victoria Road sorting office

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HIGH-CLASS supermarket Waitrose is set to return to Chelmsford in the Royal Mail's town centre sorting office.

The deal will be subject to the upmarket food giant getting planning permission for the Victoria Road location, as exclusively predicted by the Essex Chronicle in November.

Waitrose director Nigel Keen said: "The proposals would enable us to deliver a quality food shop, which can create new employment opportunities for local people."

He has promised a public discussion by the end of this month.

Manager of High Chelmer shopping centre Mick McDonagh said: "This is great news for Chelmsford. If any town needed and deserved a Waitrose back again it's Chelmsford.

"It will relate well with the new John Lewis being built not far away of course. And they both could be opening in 2014."

John Lewis at Home will bring 200 new jobs to Chelmsford and be the anchor for the next phase of Aquila's revitalisation of the area behind Debenhams.

The £100 million development, rumoured for the go-ahead soon, will sweep away the surface car parks.

Royal Mail will have to relocate to its premises on the Dukes Business Park in Chelmer Village.

People who currently collect their own undelivered post from the town office will have to travel to the Royal Mail's centre at Winsford Way, Boreham.

All letters and packages for CM1, CM2, CM3 and CM99 addresses will be delivered from Montrose Road, 1.6 miles from the present centre.

Staff representative Frank Woodhatch, of the Communication Workers Union, said: "We are looking forward to better working conditions at a more modern centre, but there are implications in moving from a central position.

"It could mean we may have to recruit people because the new distances will have an effect on how quickly we can get to places."

Royal Mail confirmed that its site in Montrose Road will be refurbished and said there would be no impact on staffing levels.

Nicola Scrivings, Royal Mail's Anglia regional operations director, said: "Due to the continuing decline in the amount of mail we handle, Chelmsford delivery office has surplus space that is no longer required."

Waitrose's first stint in Chelmsford's Meadows shopping centre ended after six years in 1998.

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