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Planner to make final decision on Tesco

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:47 01 August 2010

THE final arguments have been put forward for and against a bid by Tesco to open a store in Halesworth.

The four parties involved made their closing submissions at the public inquiry into the controversial application for a 3,300m sq store off Angel Link on Monday.

THE final arguments have been put forward for and against a bid by Tesco to open a store in Halesworth.

The four parties involved made their closing submissions at the public inquiry into the controversial application for a 3,300m sq store off Angel Link on Monday.

Dr Andrew Jones, from opposition group Save Halesworth, said its core argument surrounded the impact the scheme, proposed on land known as the Dairy Hill site, would have on the town centre.

He said: “The inevitable closure of shops in the historic buildings of the Thoroughfare, buildings too small to interest the High Street retail chains, would have dramatic and deleterious impact on the character of the town centre.”

He said the group objected to “inapposite” questions in shopper surveys carried out on behalf of Tesco, and a “pick and mix” approach to the answers they elicited.

Dr Jones added that the site in question was appropriate for much-needed affordable housing, both in size and proximity to the town centre and access to public transport.

Peter Goatley, counsel for Anglia Regional Co-op Society, which has a proposal to extend its Rainbow store on Saxons Way, said there was a lack of empirical data to back up the judgements of the planner behind the project, Martin Robeson. Mr Goatley said they would therefore not form a “rational or adequate justification” on which to base a decision.

Paul Shadarevian, for Waveney District Council, echoed Mr Goatley's view that there had been no evidence that the Thoroughfare site, for which Tesco has planning permission for a store two thirds of the proposed supermarket, had been “thoroughly assessed” as a suitable location.

Mr Shadarevian added that the case of the Tesco store in Beccles, whose population is 12,000 compared to Halesworth's 4,000, should not be treated as a “parallel or a precedent”.

Patrick Clarkson QC, for Tesco, said flooding issues rendered the Thoroughfare site inappropriate for large retail development, and that car-parking issues and heritage constraints also presented problems.

He said currently a significant proportion of shoppers travelled out of town for bulk food purchases, adding that the proposed store would strengthen Halesworth's role in the local shopping hierarchy.

Mr Clarkson said: “Tesco propose to provide competition to encourage shoppers to stay in Halesworth and use the town centre for other shopping and service requirements.”

He said that as part of Tesco's section 106 undertaking, £150,000 would be given towards new or improved community facilities.

The public inquiry was held because Tesco lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate for a delay by Waveney District Council in a decision on the application. Waveney will decide on the application to extend the Rainbow store.

The inspector, who made a visit to the site on Monday afternoon, is expected to make a decision after July 19.

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