New Tesco plan debate heats up

Latest news from the Harborough Mail
Latest news from the Harborough Mail

A crucial date for deciding Tesco’s controversial planning application for a new store in Harborough is still weeks away – but several groups have already made their views known.

Local authorities, highways experts, rival stores, trade and civic groups and many residents have already waded into the debate about the proposal.

Tesco wants to build a new store similar in size to the town’s Sainsbury’s on the former Focus site in Rockingham Road, with its planning application submitted back in October.

Many opinions on the plan have now been published on the Harborough Council website and today the Mail looks at the various stances people have adopted so far.

The district council, whose planning committee will vote on the plan, has received 77 comments, 45 of those from the public.

Of those, 32 are against the plan, 10 are supporting it, and three are neutral.

Among the opposers is the head of Harborough’s Anglican Church, the Rev Richard Brand. A total of 14 independent traders have commented, all in opposition.

Amber Felce, from Gardners Cakery in Church Street, states: “The opening of the new store will dramatically decrease footfall in the town and would threaten our local shops.”

Harborough Civic Society is strongly opposed.

It states: “The applicants have failed to appreciate the functioning of the town centre...this will be destroyed if Tesco is allowed to build outside the town centre.

“The cumulative loss of business needs to be taken into account.

“It will result directly in empty shop units and could lead to other closures.

“It will not give confidence for further investment.”

Harborough Disabled Action Group is opposed, with one its concerns being over the safety of mobility scooter users crossing the busy road.

Not surprisingly, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are objecting, with Sainsbury’s stating it will have a “significant adverse impact on the town centre, not least due to the direct implications for Sainsbury’s as the key retail anchor in town”.

The owner of St Mary’s Place shopping centre, Deutsche Alternative Asset Management, is objecting, as is Rockridge Properties, a substantial property owner in the town centre.

Tesco’s application contains hundreds of pages among 25 documents and can be viewed online at the council’s website using reference 13/01619/FUL.

The deadline to comment is Monday, January 20.

However, the council has not been able to inform the Mail when the planning application will be decided.

A council spokesman said this week: “Officers are in the process of assessing the submission and consultations, and a committee date is still to be set.

“We will keep you updated as soon as we have one.”