On your post James, I dont really think Sainsbury Holborn is a fair comparison here. Its a slightly bigger store because its under their head office! And to be honest it isnt much bigger than Sainsbury on BHS.
I don't know the Cheapside store you mention.
If Tesco/Waitrose/Sainsbury don't want to open a large store in Borough (especially the Empire Square site being offered to them) then c'est la vie, but I don't think the Council are to blame for it.
Of course the council are involved se1...they are the body which regulates what can be built...and if they don't know or understand the economics of what could work on any particular site then you are going to get a complete mess as we have here....a building unoccupied for years.
The Sainsburys opposite Holborn tube is suprisingly big when you go in. I like to stop there after a visit to the British Museum (yes I'm a nerd), and I'd be very happy to have a supermarket that size near us, as it's a good size, much better than a local store.
Obviously the council's involved. And part of the planning office's job is to know and understand the economics of what could work on any particular site. But it's not the only body - public or private - that failed to anticipate the changed and changing economic climate in which we'd all be operating by the time the Empire Sq site would be ready for occupation!
The site has been empty for years.....no supermarket wanted then or now....the economic climate is not why its empty...its empty because there's no parking and any planner and developer should have anticipated that. It needs parking to work...comparing it with the Tesco Metros as James has done is just not a viable argument for this site...those 2 have huge numbers of people passing constantly all day...the footfall is very very different. In size and relative location this site is more comparable to Waitrose at St Thomas Moore Square and that has parking and probably works...just!
i believe Waitrose were originally the most interested in Tabard (now Empire) square. the council stopped it as they wouldn't allow customer parking spaces. so now we have an empty space employing no-one, totally unproductive. to me its the council who are to blame for this missed opportunity and we end up with half a dozen identikit small Tesbury's all inadequately stocked. btw whatever happened to the planned redevelopment of tesco on OKR?
Don't get me wrong - I haven't expressed any view on the merits or otherwise of Empire Square as a supermarket location.
I just disagreed with se1lurker's claim that the supermarket groups don't want to have anything bigger than Tesco Express/Sainsbury's Local in central London as it's clearly not the case.
I also disagree with urbanite's car-centric view - many (if not most) central London dwellers don't have cars and certainly don't do their food shopping by car.
(Again, I am talking in the abstract here, not about Empire Square in particular)
Even if the chains are not currently geared up for medium-to-large format stores that are not car-centric, it's about time they were - the notion of lots of people driving to supermarkets in central London is insane on so many levels.
Me too...but supermarkets don't and they are the ones who decide on opening or not....and they have decided quite defintely that a potential store of this size will not be viable without customers having the option to do large scale shopping and needing a car to make that happen. Such a shame that a site like this is just going to waste...even the change of use to incorporate office premesis hasn't resulted in much interest.