Manningtree: Traffic twist to Tesco store bid

A DECISION over whether to allow Tesco to build a supermarket in England’s smallest town has been put off by councillors until a new traffic survey has been carried out by independent consultants.

Proposals put forward by the retail giant for a store in Manningtree were put on hold by members of Tendring District Council’s planning committee at a meeting in the counci’s Weeley offices last night.

Councillors rejected the traffic survey already carried out by Essex County Council which had said the town’s roads would be able to cope with the development in Station Road and opted to commission their own independent report.

Sarah Candy, who proposed deferring the decision, said: “We want to have a look at the alternatives and check if there are any other considerations so this committee can make an informed decision on what affect Tesco will have on the highways and the impact of this on residents in Manningtree, Lawford and Mistley.”

The motion was carried with 12 councillors in favour, two against and one abstaining. Councillors went against the advice of their planning officers who had recommended the development for approval. Peter Fletcher, development control team manager, told the committee that there should be a “strong presumption in favour” of applications which “benefitted economic development and were sustainable”.

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Ian Davidson, chief executive of the district council, reminded the committee that Essex County Council had already provided “independent advice” on the issue and that they would “need to identify a budget for this”.

Tesco had proposals for a new store rejected last May but the latest application reduces the size of the supermarket by nearly 20% and pledges funding to support initiatives to help independent traders.

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Jan King voted to defer the decision because she felt Manningtree could suffer the same fate as a smaller Tesco Express was causing in her ward of Walton.

“Tesco lorries delivering to the store are clogging up the town and it happens several times a day. Nothing has been done about it and there’s been a Tesco Express in our town for a long time,” she said.

Rosemary Heaney, chairman of the planning committee, said: “I congratulate Tesco for engaging with the planners to improve their proposals, but I still have reservations about this. It is inevitable that shops will close in Manningtree.

“The development could have a devastating affect on the high street.”

In the plans it submitted to the committee, Tesco had included a number of highway works including a new mini-roundabout in Station Road, brown tourist signs directing people to Manningtree town centre, and improved bus and pedestrian routes.

However, councillors were not satisfied that this would be enough to ease the congestion which already affects the town.

The supermarket plans to have car parking for about 245 vehicles which is a reduction of 55 spaces from the original 2008 proposal.

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