Tesco plans ‘will damage town shops and tourism’ says study

Andrew Bray at his Huddersfield Road shop. Picture by Chris Lawton
Andrew Bray at his Huddersfield Road shop. Picture by Chris Lawton
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PLANS for an out-of-town Tesco supermarket in Holmfirth would lead to the demise of independent shops and eventually damage the Holme Valley’s tourism industry, according to a hard-hitting report.

Members of the Keep Holmfirth Special group have submitted a 91-page report to Kirklees Council which includes a critical assessment by Manchester-based consultancy MT Town Planning.

The report says Holmfirth’s rural economy would be damaged if Tesco gets permission for a store at the former Midlothian garage site off New Mill Road.

It claims that building a supermarket approximately 1.5km from Holmfirth town centre would be contrary to local and national planning guidance.

The report claims Tesco’s own submissions underestimate the impact the store will have on the roads and on other businesses.

It says a retail study “grossly underestimates the impact of the proposal on shops and businesses not only in Holmfirth but also in New Mill, Thongsbridge, Honley, Wooldale and other villages”.

The combined effect of a new Tesco and other supermarkets in Huddersfield and Honley “will devastate independent local shopping in the Holme Valley and will cause irreparable damage to the local economy”.

The existing Co-op in Holmfirth has estimated it will lose a large chunk of its trade and, the report says, small independent retailers are unlikely to be able to survive.

The report warns: “The scale of the Tesco proposal is such that it threatens the local economy of the entire Holme Valley.

“The need for a supermarket of this size has not been demonstrated and cannot be justified.

“The Holme Valley is essentially a rural economy with many small family-run shops and businesses, supplied by a network of local businesses and services.

“An out-of-centre supermarket will divert trade away and shops will close.

Keep Holmfirth Special believes that tourism will also suffer if Holmfirth loses its distinct small-town character.

Margaret Dale, chairman of Keep Holmfirth Special, said: “Holmfirth is a peaceful, semi-rural area and many people are worried that this will change, in order to benefit the bottom line of a multi-national company. It raises the question: what price are people prepared to pay for convenience?”

Deborah Hayeems, corporate affairs manager at Tesco, said: “We know our proposal is widely supported and that people welcome the plans for 175 local jobs and an appropriately-sized supermarket to reduce the need for residents to travel out of the area to shop.

“Anyone is entitled to submit comments on our application and it will be for the council to assess the detail, and to balance the views of supporters and objectors.”

The Co-operative Group has also objected to Tesco’s plans. A spokesman said recently that the anticipated annual turnover of the proposed Tesco store would be £26m, “a huge figure that would be at the expense of town centre stores”.

The spokesman said: “There are too many examples of town centres that have suffered from out-of-centre developments already, and we don’t want to see Holmfirth become another one.”

A decision on the plans is expected later this year.