Inquiry proceeds as Tesco drops revised scheme

editorial image

CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a Tesco superstore at Halfway will be the subject of a public inquiry next week.

A revised scheme was submitted for the site off Oxclose Park Road after councillors refused permission last March.

But after running into further opposition from the council, it has been withdrawn, paving the way for all the issues to be debated in front of a Government-appointed inspector at an inquiry scheduled to begin next Tuesday.

Tesco wants to build a superstore and a 500-space car park near an existing Morrisons superstore with a view to taking a slice of the trade in the south-east of Sheffield.

Initially, its ambitions were blocked by the council on the grounds that the land was needed to help meet the city’s five-year housing targets.

Tesco appealed to the Government and a date was set for the public inquiry.

At the same time, it amended its proposals in the light of the council’s and the community’s response in the hope of securing approval without the need for the public hearing. The position of the store was relocated and the idea of a link road from the entrance to Deepwell Avenue, allowing the diversion of buses, was dropped.

The change of strategy failed to gain the support of planners, and they were ready to advise councillors to formally reject the latest plans on Monday, until Tesco withdrew the amended scheme.

In fact, the council is now attempting to strengthening its case.

Since the first Tesco application was refused, Asda has been given the go-ahead for a superstore on the Home Decor Innovations site off Beighton Road East. If an Asda and a Tesco were built in the south-east of the city, the combined effect would harm Crystal Peaks shopping centre, it is argued.

“In summary, it is the view of officers that the loss of the convenience trade as a result of the cumulative development of both the approved Asda store and the proposed Tesco store would detract from the role of Crystal Peaks as a district centre on the grounds that significant levels of trade diversion from key sectors can undermine its vitality and viability, resulting in reduced footfall, increased vacancies and a reduction in the range, type and quality of goods available,” says a council report.

Meanwhile, the original sticking point remains of the council’s desire to protect the land for housing in line with Government requirements.

Morrisons are urging the authority to stand firm, saying a Tesco at Oxclose would draw trade from existing shopping centres, including Crystal Peaks.

Tesco says the development would create 450 jobs and pump £5.5m of wages into the economy and they have submitted 316 ‘support cards’ from a public consultation exercise. The council has received 61 letters of objection.

The public inquiry, at the town hall, is due to run for four days, although this is likely to be affected by the proposed strike next Wednesday by public sector workers.