Hadleigh: Fears new Tesco store could pose unacceptable traffic hazard

A protest march in Hadleigh against Tesco plans.

A protest march in Hadleigh against Tesco plans. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners against a new Tesco supermarket in Hadleigh claim the retail giant is “putting profits before safety” in its current planning application.

Tesco Hadleigh

Tesco Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

Although the supermarket chain stronlgy refutes the suggestion, those fighting the proposal to build a store on the former Brett Works site say there is a “one in 100 chance” of a traffic accident occurring if the company builds in that location.

Members of the public queuing to attend a public meeting where a previous application by Tesco to bu

Members of the public queuing to attend a public meeting where a previous application by Tesco to build in Hadleigh was discussed - Credit: Andrew Partridge

The statistics, from Tesco’s own traffic study commissioned in 2008 for a former application, have been highlighted in a new independent transport assessment funded by Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce.

The report by consultants Richard Jackson, says the data Tesco submitted with regard to traffic flow, in particular heavy good vehicles, is “seriously flawed” and that the proposed pedestrian access to the High Street via Pound Lane is “unsafe”.

It continues: “There is a clear statement of an unacceptable risk of collision due to lack of visibility at the proposed entrance to the site, as identified in the Tesco traffic survey, compounded by the fact that vehicles turning off Bridge Street will immediately cross a pedestrian crossing.

“The main areas of concern and danger are the A1071 junction, the access along Gallows Hill, the corners at the White Hart (pub) and the proposed turning onto the Brett Works site. But all except the last of these areas are excluded from the scope of (Tesco’s) report.”

Chamber member Roger Bannister, who has worked in transport for 40 years, said due to narrow footways on Gallows Hill, vulnerable pedestrians such as older people with shopping trolleys are forced to walk in the roadway at the narrowest point. He added: “If this application is successful, you would be mixing people with kids in buggies on a road with 38-tonne lorries, which is a recipe for disaster.

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“They are proposing to put this supermarket at a junction which has up to 300 vehicles at peak hour and we do not feel that a one in 100 chance of an accident is acceptable under any circumstances. Tesco’s lack of concern about this probability shows their concerns are entirely about profit and nothing to do with the local community.”

A spokesman for Tesco said the visibility standards in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) had been used to provide an “overly robust” assessment of the possible dangers. The figures in the report have also been accepted by the county council.

The company’s corporate affairs manager Simon Petar said: “Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council highways officers have looked at our transport assessment in detail.

“Significantly county council experts have independently verified our figures. Safety for customers and staff is our number one priority and rightly no compromises are made on this.”

Chamber president Tony Addison said they had been pointing out the traffic concerns in Tesco’s report to county highways chiefs since 2010. But he added: “They have dismissed our fears because they view them as irrelevant, as they are not supported by an ‘expert’ report. So the chamber has gone to the considerable expense of commissioning a report by experts.”

The county officer responsible for the Tesco application was not available to comment on the findings in the chamber’s traffic assessment. But a county council spokesman said: “We will give careful consideration to all relevant information, including the technical report commissioned by Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce, when forming our view on this planning application. This is our standard approach and certainly applies here.”