Halesworth Tesco plans criticised in report

DESIGN experts have criticised controversial plans for a supermarket in Halesworth.

The government-sponsored Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has slammed Tesco’s proposals for a store in Halesworth as “rigid”, “weak” and “likely to be a liability” in a report published this week.

According to the report, which is based on reviews by CABE of 30 major schemes around the country, supermarket-led developments in town centres could be a liability if they are poorly designed.

The 20-page publication looks at schemes by retailers including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s and specifically refers to the Halesworth plans which were rejected earlier this year.

At the time, the proposals for a Tesco store off Angel Link were rejected on the grounds that it would harm the retail character of the town centre and be out of scale with the catchment. The views are echoed in the CABE report.

It says: “The scheme undermined existing good connections into the town centre, positioning the blank rear of the store on a popular pedestrian route. No effort was made to create spaces or landscape in a way which would strengthen the sense of place.

“In Halesworth, the local authority had good, up-to-date land use policy for the site, proposing residential and community use. It felt able to refuse the scheme as it did not fit with those aspirations.”

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Tesco’s plans were rejected following a public inquiry into the proposal to build the store, a scheme which divided residents and was opposed by Anglia Regional Co-op, which runs the town’s Rainbow Co-op store, and Waveney District Council.

The decision on the planning application had to be put into the hands of a planning inspector after Tesco lodged an appeal.

A Tesco spokesman said: “Tesco’s plans to build a supermarket in Halesworth were rejected on appeal in the summer 2010. At the appeal, the inspector recognised that there would be benefits for local people of a new supermarket in the town and did not reject the need for a new store.

“In light of this, we are considering the decision and how to respond to it. We have also listened to the comments from CABE.”