CAmpaigners have vowed to fight the latest bid by Tesco to build a supermarket in the Last of the Summer Wine town of Holmfirth.
The supermarket giant has triggered mixed reactions since it first tried to win approval for the store on the derelict former Midlothian Garage site in New Mill Road, about a mile from the town centre, in 2009.
After withdrawing its original application, the firm’s revised scheme was rejected by Kirklees Council last year.
Now Tesco has written to the Planning Inspectorate seeking an independent view on whether the proposals should be allowed to proceed.
Bill O’Brien, an officer with Keep Holmfirth Special (KHS), which has campaigned against the proposal, said: “We are not surprised by Tesco’s appeal – after all it seems to be their normal practice throughout the country to appeal whenever decisions go against them. However, it is disappointing that they still refuse to recognise that the Midlothian site is the wrong place for a supermarket of the size proposed.”
KHS claims the scheme would cause “horrendous traffic problems” on New Mill Road and surrounding streets.
Mr O’Brien said: “Kirklees Council deliberated at great length over the issue of Highways. If there are solutions, how come Tesco haven’t made these public before? There are also other sites available in the Holme Valley which may be more suitable.
“We all agree there is a need for more choice and a wider range of goods within the Holme Valley. The forthcoming opening of Lidl is a step in the right direction and there is also a lot of interest from other retailers in the area. Could the owners of Riverside and the Market Hall, Holmfirth, make better use of their buildings?
“With any new developments, careful consideration will always have to be given to the suitability of any potential site. Should all the boxes be ticked, KHS would have no objection to another supermarket.
“Tesco needn’t pursue its appeal to develop the Midlothian site with a supermarket of the size they put forward and we strongly urge them to reconsider. KHS would also be delighted to talk to Tesco and the site’s owners about more appropriate uses for this site.”
The controversial bid by Tesco has split the town since the scheme was unveiled, with Holme Valley Voices forming last year in a bid to counteract the influence of KHS.
Businessman Tim Radcliffe, who founded Holme Valley Voices, said the group hopes Tesco succeeds in its appeal and that most of the town’s residents are travelling outside the town to do their shopping.
“Holmfirth is regularly described as a village but it’s not; it’s a market town,” he said. “The choice of shopping in the town is pitiful to say the least. You cannot possibly do a complete shop in Holmfirth.
“The Midlothian site has been derelict now for ten years. It’s a real blot on the landscape and this would regenerate it.
“We firmly believe that if people shop in Holmfirth to do a main shop they will come down into the town to do the rest of their shopping.”
The store, which Tesco said would create 175 jobs, was rejected by Huddersfield Planning Sub-Committee in July 2012 for several reasons including the impact of the predicted traffic and what they called “poor” levels of accessibility for shoppers using non-car modes of transport.
The revised application incorporated changes including a significant reduction in size of store in response to feedback on a previous scheme.
Deborah Hayeems, Tesco corporate affairs manager said, “We have been encouraged by the strong support from the local community and we hope that an independent planning inspector will see the merits of the development. We have legal advice on the committee’s decision and remain convinced that this derelict brown field site is the best location for a supermarket to serve the local population.”