Tesco Unlocks Its Landbank To Build 4,000 New Homes
£1bn building plan comes after revelation of 310 unused sites, with retail plans shelved due to shift in shopping habits.
A Guardian investigation of Land Registry records found that the retailer was sitting on 310 sites that do not currently house a Tesco store.
Among the Tesco sites set for housing developments will be Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, close to the retailer's operational headquarters, where it plans to build more than 700 homes on a site where it previously planned a store.
The trade journal Property Week said the majority of the sites will be in the south-east of England but developments are also scheduled further north, including in Liverpool and the west of England.
Tesco said it was likely to build homes itself via its development wing, Spenhill, while also selling sites to housing developers, in a programme that has been valued by Property Week at £1bn, based on a valuation of £250,000 per home.
A Tesco spokesperson said: "In response to changing customer shopping habits we have decided to reduce the amount of new store space we build each year, building fewer large stores. Where we no longer intend to develop sites, we sell them, lease them or develop them for housing.
Retail analysts said Tesco was now turning to housing developments because residential development was more economically viable. The poor performance of out-of-town supermarkets meant the land was not necessarily worth more if it was dedicated to new retail sites.
Other supermarkets are also developing housing, with at least 4,500 homes expected to be built by the major grocers between 2013 and 2018. J Sainsbury was set to begin projects involving more than 1,500 homes this year, including a partnership with Barratt on a major development in Battersea, south London, which includes 700 homes and a new tube station. Some developments are smaller in scale. Waitrose has developed a number of stores topped by flats, while many retailers are turning redundant pubs into convenience stores with housing above.