STORE giant Tesco has aband-oned plans to build a superm-arket on the edge of Kendal town centre.

The chain’s decision to pull out of the Canal Head regeneration project has prompted a new planning application for a Sainsbury’s store at Kendal Rugby Club’s Shap Road ground.

Tesco’s decision follows an announcement earlier this year that it would cut back on build

ing new large supermarkets and hypermarkets in favour of refreshing existing stores, and developing its online business.

On Friday, developer Morbaine, which has retained options on the rugby club site, signed a new deal with Sainsbury’s for a food-only supermarket which, if approved by South Lakeland District Council, would create 400 jobs.

Approval would also mean Kendal Rugby Club would finally be able to move to a new ground at Strawberry Fields, off Oxen-holme Road, which already has planning approval for purpose-built sports facilities.

Club chairman Dr Steve Green said he was ‘optimistic’, but also cautious as there had been ‘too many false dawns’ already.

A spokesman for Morbaine said it had submitted a revised plan-ning application for the rugby ground after becoming convin-ced a rival plan for a supermarket at Canal Head would not now go ahead.

The new Sainsbury’s would be smaller than the store proposed in previous applications, and would no longer include non-food retail space. It is the third planning bid Morbaine has subm-itted for the Shap Road site.

Previous outline applications have been turned down at appeal. The first was refused because of off-site highway concerns, although the government inspector was otherwise happy with the proposal.

The second application, which was supported by council planning officers, was refused because of the inspector’s Canal Head preference, even though no application for that develop-ment had ever been submitted.

In a covering letter with its new application, Morbaine says: “We understand that the Canal Head site is no longer available for retail development and evidence to this effect will be forthcoming in due course.”

The new proposal for Shap Road allows for 502 customer park- ing spaces and access for the store service yard via Mint Bridge Road. A six-pump filling station and jet wash at the south-east corner of the site is also proposed.

A spokesman for Mealbank Properties, owner of the Goodacre industrial site and one of the companies behind Canal Road regeneration, confirmed that Tesco was not proceeding with an application. Mealbank was now pursuing its own plans for their site, he said.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We have now exchanged contracts with the developer and we’re committed to supporting the application through the planning process. The 50,000sq ft store, which would create up to 400 new full and part-time jobs and offer the full range of Sainsbury’s products, would increase shopping choice in the town and help to retain shoppers in Kendal.”

The Sainsbury’s plan is set to be considered at either the end of January, or mid-February.