Petition asks for bigger supermarket at the Utrecht Science Park

The Spar supermarket in the USP, photographed in 2004. Photo: DUB archive

The petition was initiated by Joachim Cornielje. Besides being eligible for the city council on behalf of PvdA, Cornielje has experienced first-hand the inconvenience caused by the lack of a large supermarket at the Uithof: he is a Sociology graduate who used to live at the USP. When he decided to collect signatures on Wednesday, February 2, he received positive reactions from almost everyone. “Only the owner of the Spar wasn’t happy”.

Meanwhile, he has collected 500 signatures. His goal was to reach a thousand, but he has increased the bar now that he is already halfway there. “With enough support, we will start talking with the alderman as soon as possible. It is about time something really happens”, says Cornielje.

Students have been complaining for years about the lack of a regular supermarket on campus. “A friend of mine told me that back in 1997, when he studied here, people already complained about the lack of a full-service supermarket”. Many residents, employees and students consider the current supermarket, operated by Spar, too small and expensive. However, in its latest document outlining future plans for the Utrecht Science Park, the municipality is not planning on adding a full-service supermarket, like Jumbo or Albert Heijn, to the area. According to the municipality, there is not enough demand for it, even though 70,000 people visit the USP daily, not to mention its 2,500 permanent residents. For fresh and cheaper groceries, students have to order online or cycle to Bunnik or the Burgermeester Reigerstraat street.

Reacting to the critique it received on the vision document, the municipality emphasised a full-service supermarket is probably going to be added to the building site on Archimedeslaan avenue, in Rijsweerd, which is situated at approximately 1,500 metres from the USP. But Cornielje is not satisfied with this.

“There might be a larger supermarket at Archimedeslaan Avenue, but that is going to take at least five more years. Construction works will only start in 2024. They would be able to add a supermarket to the USP much faster because we already have the buildings and space. Additionally, there is more than enough demand for two supermarkets close to each other: one at the USP and one in Rijnsweerd. Especially considering the municipality's plans are bound to increase the number of jobs and residents in the USP.”

Together with the student section of the PvdA, Cornielje hopes to change the mind of the municipality board with the petition. He simply can’t understand why the municipality is digging in their heels on this issue. “All they do is come up with excuses. First, it was a lack of space, but that argument has been dismissed after research was conducted for the vision document. Now they say there is not enough demand but there is an incredible amount of retailers interested in opening a supermarket at the USP. Why don't we just leave it to the market if there's enough space?