In January 2011 Morrisons was preparing to submit a planning application for a supermarket near Barnstaple town centre and in September consultations were held for a possible new Asda store in Barnstaple.
In October 2012 the results of a report jointly funded by North Devon Council (NDC) and Torridge District Council (TDC), estimates North Devon will only need 3,972sq m of new supermarket space in the next 20 years. The report could have a major bearing on two planning applications for a 2,787sq m Morrisons store on the Evans Transport site and a 6,820sq m Asda store at Anchorwood Bank, both in Barnstaple.
Background on Tesco plans
The owners of Brian Ford's secretly sold their supermarket business to Tesco in October 2003 and then submitted a planning application to the local authority. The true nature of the application was only revealed because newspapers wrote reports about the deal. Brian Ford's had been granted outline planning permission in June 2001 to demolish its existing buildings and build a new store with a road link. The new application deals with the siting and appearance of the proposed new store, with 392 car parking spaces. For further information please see an article in thisisnorthdevon.co.uk, 12th June 2009.
Councillors were due to consider the application on 13th January 2010 but the decision was deferred because of new government planning guidance released on 29th December.
On 17th March 2010 Councillors on North Devon Council's planning committee voted 14-10 to approve the plans.
In June 2010 a group of local Barnstaple residents staged a protest in the town, collecting 656 signatures to boycott the opening of the store. In November 2010 disagreements about the Tesco application came to the fore during a heated council meeting. A motion was put forward by Councillor Brian Greenslade, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, to ban members of North Devon Council's executive from sitting on the planning committee because of a lack of transparency surrounding the Tesco application, which was passed by the planning committee in March.