Tesco gets go-ahead for four new stores

Aaron Morby 14 years ago

Tesco has been given the green light to build four new stores as it ramps up expansion plans.

The supermarket chain has won over local councillors with promises to create jobs and contribute to town improvements at three of the schemes.

But the massive increase in selling space is stirring up campaigns against Britain’s biggest supermarket.

Campaigners claim Tesco is using its financial muscle to bulldoze through building plans ahead of tighter regulation powers coming into force.

The new stores will be built in Hull, Consett, Galston in East Ayrshire. and Ashtead in Kent.

In Consett, Tesco plans to spend £2.5m on reclaiming contaminated land on the former steelworks site and also pledged £400,000 towards town centre regeneration.

In Ayrshire, it is donating £370,000 towards the upgrading of Galston town centre.

Tesco has also told councillors each store, which will be around 50,000 sq ft in size, will provide up to 250 jobs for local residents.

It has also emerged victorious last week from a two-year battle after agreeing to build a smaller store in the heart of Ashtead after going to appeal.

Last April, Tesco revealed plans to build 80 new stores this year, nearly three times the ambition of its three main rivals.

In the first seven months of the 2010, Tesco is reported to have already awarded 47 new-build, extension or refurbishment projects, worth £300m.

But the move to increase selling space by around 2.4m sq ft is sparking fury from campaigners who criticise the dominance of Britain’s largest supermarket giant.

There are now reported to be more than 300 separate campaign groups fighting against the retail giant.

Campaigners accuse the supermarket chain of racing its plans through ahead of the introduction of controls that would severely limit its expansion.

The Competition Commission has drawn up planning rules – known as the competition test – that could stop Tesco from opening large supermarkets in 314 communities where it is dominant.

But these have not yet been ratified by the Government.

A spokesman for campaign co-ordinating group Tescopoly said: “Research by Tescopoly and Friends of the Earth has found that supermarkets such as Tesco are very clearly exercising their muscle in the planning system.

“They have such vast resources that local councils are not really on a equal footing when it comes to negotiations and are often powerless to resist their expansion.”

Meanwhile, CABE has stepped in and branded Tesco’s plan to build a hub store and new library and community centre in Hattersley, Tameside as disappointing, recommending planning is refused for the scheme in its present form.

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