Essex: New Tesco would be ‘disastrous’ for town

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a controversial new Tesco store have made a last-ditch plea to persuade councillors to reject the scheme.

Planning members will decide today whether to allow the retail giant to build a new superstore in Manningtree.

Those opposing the plans said it will have a “disastrous” impact on the town’s independent traders.

But it is a view not shared by Tendring District Council’s planning officers, who have recommended the scheme be approved.

It comes as the supermarket chain looks to strengthen its grip on north-east Essex, announcing plans for another new store, this time in Walton.

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Michael Coultharde-Steer, chairman of Stour Community First, who are fighting the Manningtree plans, said: “Whether it’s inevitable or not makes no difference to us, we’ll still fight it. It’s the wrong site, it’s completely out of proportion and it will damage what is a thriving town.

“We believe it will have a disastrous effect on the local traders and shops in Manningtree and the levels of traffic it will bring through the town are unacceptable, given the infrastructure is unable to cope. It’s a small medieval town which already has bottlenecks.

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“Although they have reduced the size it is still double the size of the Co-op and it’s double the size of the rest of the convenience stores in Manningtree combined.”

Tesco had proposals for a new store rejected last May but the latest application reduces the size of the supermarket and a pledge of �22,000 to support initiatives to help independent traders.

But Mr Coultharde-Steer added: “The people who are for this say there won’t be any negative effects [on local shops] which begs the question: why are they offering this money? It suggests there is negative issues and if so the money is a derisory amount.”

Brian Rolfe, chairman of Lawford Parish Council, the only parish authority to support the application, said any traffic concerns would be mitigated by the fact a new store in Manningtree would stop the town’s residents travelling to superstores in Colchester or Dovercourt.

He said: “We’re quite passionate about this, the objectors may think they’re passionate but a lot of them don’t live round here, a lot of them will come from Hadleigh. If I was in Hadleigh I’d object to a Tesco because it has a vibrant high street, Manningtree doesn’t.

“Also we feel our young people need the opportunities to get into the job market and this will provide them with opportunities.”

Louise Gosling, spokeswoman for Tesco, said: “When you build these stores close to the high street and when you invest in infrastructure like footpaths the effect is more people go into town and footfall increases.

“I understand people’s concerns but we’re confident our proposals will have a positive effect on the town centre of Manningtree.”

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