Hadleigh: Heated debate expected at Tesco D-day meeting

Tesco Hadleigh

Tesco Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

People protesting against plans for a Tesco superstore in Hadleigh will find out today if their campaign has been successful.

Babergh’s planning chiefs are expecting a large number of people to attend a crunch meeting at the town’s Guildhall Complex this morning, which will decide if the retail giant can build on the former Brett Works.

The proposal – which is the latest in a string of controversial bids by Tesco to create stores in Suffolk towns including Aldeburgh and Felixstowe – is expected to attract national attention.

Last night, protestors were putting the final touches to their arguments against the application. The group Hands Off Hadleigh and the local chamber of commerce have commissioned expert studies to highlight the possible impact the store could have on the town’s traffic system and its economy. They also say that only “slight modifications” have been made to a previous application by Tesco, which was rejected by Babergh in 2011 on design and conservation grounds.

Last week, Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce polled members about the impact the new supermarket could have on their businesses. Seven traders, including a café, butcher and print shop, said they would definitely be forced to close if the application went through. A further seven – among them the town’s post office, a second butcher’s shop and a tile business – said they would “probably” close. Although Babergh planning chiefs have recommended the application for approval, in the report that will be central to today’s discussion, the council’s own economic development officers have warned that a new supermarket in Hadleigh could have a “negative” impact on the town’s High Street trade.

A spokesman for Tesco told the EADT: “We’re pleased to be recommended for approval in the officer’s report.

“We’ve worked hard to improve our application and we think we have a design which will complement the area, whilst the store’s location will help to bring shoppers back into Hadleigh.”

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Babergh has designated a big proportion of Hadleigh’s High Street car park near Barclay’s bank just for committee member parking this morning. The local authority declined to comment on the case ahead of today’s meeting.