Hadleigh: Fresh Tesco plans for town

RETAIL giant Tesco has submitted a new planning application for a store in Hadleigh – re-igniting a row that has been going on for 14 years.

A planning application to build a Tesco store on the Brett Works site near the town centre was rejected by a single vote by Babergh District Council’s planning committee in July last year.

It was turned down on the grounds of poor design.

Tesco has now lodged an entirely new application with a new design, which it hopes will be enough to persuade the planners to approve the application.

However since the previous application was turned down, rival supermarket giant Morrisons has started work to convert part of the former Buyright store into a food store – that is due to open early next year.

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And that could change a key plank of the argument in favour of Tesco – that there was a need for a new supermarket in the Suffolk town.

Louise Gosling, from Tesco, said: “Last year council members refused the application by one vote because they didn’t feel the design of our plans were right for the town.

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“We have listened to this feedback and have taken on board the concerns raised.

“Since then we have worked hard to come up with improved plans which will blend in better with the surrounding architecture of Hadleigh.”

She said the store would be about a third of the size of the superstore at Copdock Mill on the edge of Ipswich, and about half the size of the Sudbury Tesco store. It would employ about 200 full and part-time staff, and sell 250 lines of local produce.

However, protesters who have fought a long battle against Tesco promised to keep up the fight.

Jan Byrne, chair of the Hadleigh Society, said the pressure group “Hands Off Hadleigh” would be re-energised to oppose the proposals.

She said: “At last year’s meeting it was clear that councillors wanted to oppose the application on three grounds – access, retail need and design.

“They could not reject it on access because the county highways did not object. They could not oppose it on the retail need point because Babergh itself said there was a need for a retailer like this in Hadleigh.

“However, that was before Morrisons came along and developed the other site which is even bigger than what Tesco wants.

“The retail need is no longer there – even if the design has changed.”

She has been fighting Tesco since it first announced it wanted to build a supermarket in Hadleigh back in 1998.

“At the start of each annual meeting of the Hadleigh Society, I say ‘This is Year whatever in the battle with Tesco’ and I don’t think that will change,” she said.

However, while there is a vociferous campaign against the retailer, there are also those in the town who want to see the new store.

A Facebook page entitled “I Want a Tesco Hadleigh Suffolk” has messages from people in the town who say they would welcome the competition and the jobs that the store would provide.

A spokesman for Babergh said the application had been received and was being validated by planning officials.

It was not yet possible to say when the committee would discuss it – there would need to be formal consultation because it was a completely new application, not just an amendment to a previous bid.

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