Hadleigh: Complaint over Tesco report is rejected as decision on new store is delayed

An artist's impression of the proposed Tesco store in Hadleigh

An artist's impression of the proposed Tesco store in Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

A decision on whether Tesco can build a new superstore in Hadleigh has been delayed in the midst of an investigation into a planning report.

The retail giant’s latest bid for permission to build on the former Brett Works site was due to be discussed by Babergh District Council’s planning committee last week but was postponed.

Last night, a spokesman for the council said: “Work on the report for the committee is still being carried out.

“No set date has been made for the plans to be heard but they will go before the committee as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, a complaint lodged against consultancy firm Nathaniel Litchfield & Partners (NLP), which was hired by Babergh to write an independent report on how a Tesco store could affect Hadleigh town centre, has been dismissed.

In the report, the company claimed that although a Tesco could affect the existing Co-op supermarket and two other High Street shops, the vitality of the town would remain intact.

Hands off Hadleigh campaigner Jan Byrne said: “The NLP report barely challenged Tesco’s assertions that their proposed store wouldn’t impact on the High Street. Businesses have already seen a downturn following the arrival of Morrison’s and we believe a Tesco would make the main thoroughfare a ghost town.”

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The co-ordinator of Babergh’s Green Party, Robert Lindsay, complained to NLP’s governing body, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) about the report, claiming that it was not “independent” as NLP worked with Tesco in other areas.

He said: “I believe the consultants had a serious conflict of interest as they were advising Babergh on whether to approve a Tesco store in Hadleigh at the same time as they were advertising Tesco as a client on their website.”

However, the conflict of interest claim has been dismissed by the institute.

In its concluding letter, the RTPI advised NLP not to advertise Tesco as a client on its website because it could lead people to “perceive a conflict of interest when NLP is instructed to provide independent advice in respect of retail assessments submitted by Tesco”.

The consultants were also advised to be cautious about stating their commercial ambitions online and to consider further demarcation between their public and private sector work.

Mr Lindsay described the RTPI’s findings as a “whitewash by an industry body protecting its own.”

A director at the consultancy firm said that Tesco had not been advised by NLP in the Babergh area, and that NLP’s work for Tesco was undertaken by a different team within the company.

Tesco declined to comment to the EADT.