Government criticised over controversial superstore plans

The Government has been condemned for not calling in a controversial scheme for a multi-million pound supermarket development in Scarborough as concerns mount that the resort’s independent traders will be decimated.

Plans for a new Tesco superstore in the town took a major leap forward this week as the Secretary of State Eric Pickles revealed the application for a new 65,000 sq ft outlet on Dean Road would not be called-in.

But Scarborough Town Against Tesco Store (STATS) said Mr Pickles had made the wrong decision and has vowed to “fight to the end” in a final battle against the development.

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The group’s chairman, Malcolm Short, said: “We are condemning this decision. We believe the Government has got it wrong and I don’t think they have looked at it properly. I don’t think they have considered the impact it will have on the town and on the people that live in the area.”

Scarborough Borough Council rubber-stamped the scheme in December, along with plans which will see the existing Sainsbury’s store in Falsgrave Road expanded by 33,900 sq ft.

However, the application had to be referred to the Secretary of State due to the size of the store, the fact the site was not within the town centre and also because the proposal was a departure from the Local Plan - the council’s planning blueprint for the town.

But on Tuesday it was confirmed it did not need to be examined further as “the proposals do not involve a conflict with national policies on important matters nor have significant effects beyond their immediate locality, give rise to substantial regional or national controversy, or raise significant architectural and urban design issues”.

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Pauline Elliott, the council’s head of planning and regeneration, said the council was pleased with the decision. “Although we understand that the decision remains unsupported in some quarters, this communication from central government demonstrates that the council as planning authority has acted correctly in following the proper planning procedures to reach the present stage.”

The application will be determined at local level by the borough council, which can now issue a decision notice.

However, another obstacle still has to be over come by the supermarket giant before it can start building the development. Tesco must now apply for permission to close a major link road, which is used by around 3,000 cars a day.

This decision could also be called-in by Mr Pickles and campaigners have pledged to mount pressure on the Secretary to stop the road closure in a desperate attempt to stop the development going ahead.

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Mr Short said: “We are now doing everything we can to stop the closure of Trafalgar Street West. We have swerved our tactics and we are now collecting as many letters of objection as we can. We have already got 3,000 and we will be gathering more this weekend. These will be hand-delivered to the Secretary of State. We have always said we will fight to the end. This is now the final battle and we are going to give it all we can.”

Central ward councillor Eric Broadbent has also voiced staunch objections to the store, claiming the scheme would wipe out independent retailers and dramatically change the town’s shopping centre.

He said: “I’m disappointed with the Government’s decision. I have read reports that where a large supermarket is based, the first casualty is small businesses. The proof will be in the pudding when it actually happens - assuming it will - what the effect will be on the town centre. When both supermarket developments are completed, it’s very likely Scarborough town centre could become a ghost town.”

Both supermarket giants claim the new developments will boost jobs and help tackle long-term unemployment in the towns.

Matthew Magee, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “We’re looking forward to creating new jobs and a better shopping experience in Scarborough.”