TESCO was left frustrated this week over its ambitions for the south-east of Sheffield after losing an appeal over a potential site in Halfway.
A Government inspector ruled that the land should be kept for housing and raised concerns over the impact on Crystal Peaks shopping centre, especially in the light of Asda opening a superstore in the area.
The verdict followed a public inquiry into Tesco’s application to develop land off Oxclose Park Road, near a Morrisons store.
The council rejected the scheme as the site – originally earmarked for ‘employment purposes’ – was needed for housing in line with Government requirements.
Inspector Laura Graham accepted the argument, and also ruled that Crystal Peaks, which has a Sainsbury’s, would pay too high a price in the face of competition from a Tesco as well as a new Asda off Beighton Road.
“Once the Asda store is trading, shoppers will have the choice of three major food retailers in the area, and the benefits to be derived from the addition of a fourth major food store do not carry much weight.”
She added: “From what I saw, and the evidence before me, it is trading well with a low vacancy rate.
“Its attractiveness will be enhanced with the opening of a branch of Marks and Spencer.”
Ms Graham underlined the advantages of a new Tesco - more choice for shoppers, 200 jobs and better roads and bus services.
But she concluded: “I do not consider that the benefits of the proposals would outweigh the harm I identify to the supply of land for housing and the, albeit limited, harm to the vitality and viability of the Crystal Peaks shopping centre.”
Use of the land for housing would also create jobs, although not as quickly, said Ms Graham.
Sheffield needs to meet Government demands to ensure it has enough land for housebuilding over the next five years, and Oxclose is “well suited” to the development of traditional family homes when the market picks up. It has the potential to make “a small but significant contribution”.
The Tesco scheme attracted widespread community opposition, largely on the basis of the threat to existing shops and the traffic implications.
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Gail Smith, who helped to collect a 1,200-name protest petition, said: “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people over the last 18 months who are really concerned about the effect this would have on Halfway and Mosborough. A new Tesco superstore would have brought a lot of traffic to local roads and could have damaged small businesses in the area.”