A SUPERMARKET giant’s two-year battle to expand in Horncastle has ended in failure.
Councillors unanimously rejected Tesco’s plans to relocate to Lincoln Road at an East Lindsey District Council planning meeting held on Thursday.
The outcome was reached without debate and echoed the earlier recommendation for refusal put forward by ELDC planning officer Chris Panton.
Tesco has six months to decide if it will appeal against the decision.
A Tesco spokesman said: “Of course we are disappointed with the council’s decision.
“We believe our plans for Horncastle will deliver an improved store, better shopping and more jobs.
“We now need to take stock and review our position before deciding how to proceed.”
Tesco did not speak at the meeting but a PR representative for the firm was present.
Chairman of Horncastle’s Town Plan Action Group, (TPAG) Richard Barker, spoke on behalf of four town groups against Tesco’s plans to build a larger, replacement store.
Horncastle Chamber of Commerce, Horncastle Civic Society, Horncastle Town Council and the TPAG say Tesco should expand its Watermill Road premises.
And to alleviate the associated flood risks, the groups believe Tesco should “gap fund” a flood relief scheme for the River Bain.
The risks of increased traffic congestion on Lincoln Road, potential trade losses for town centre shops and the proposed site’s close proximity to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School were highlighted by Horncastle district councillor Steve Newton.
He said: “I totally agree with the officers’ recommendation that this application is refused.
“The benefits of this application are greatly outnumbered by the negative effects it would have on the town.
“At peak times, traffic backs up three or four miles to Baumber.
“That is the main issue.
“The current store is close to the town centre, people park there to do their shopping and then go into town.
“If this is given the go-ahead people will get in their car down to the new store to do their shop and not go near the town and I believe it would have a severe effect on the future of Horncastle town centre.
“I have concerns about the school buses dropping pupils in a busy car park and the tranquillity garden will not be very tranquil as it will have 15 to 16 buses going past it.”
Tesco’s plans also failed to convince district councillors on the planning committee.
Coun Pauline Cooper said: “I have seen the congestion outside the grammar school and in summer I have seen a queue of holiday traffic all the way back to Baumber.”
Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders said: “I did not think the application has much going for it.
“On average you lose 1.5 jobs in the town centre for every job created in a superstore.”
Coun Anthony Bridges said: “We identify Horncastle as a historic town centre.
“I feel this application flies in the face of that.
“I have been on that Lincoln Road and have not been able to get out of there.
“I really do believe if this application were to go ahead it would only exacerbate the situation.”
Horncastle people at the planning meeting welcomed the outcome.
Angela Kisby, who lives close to the Lincoln Road site, said: “This is definitely a good result.
“There were about three times last year were we could not get out onto Lincoln Road. “Also, we want to keep trade in the centre of the town and Tesco has a good location where it is, they just need to help with the flood relief with their money.”
Maureen Traves said: “Traffic congestion was mentioned in the meeting, but they left out the fact that the Lincoln Road is a main road for emergency services and access to hospitals.
“We know this is only the first step though, they will appeal and get a top barrister to fight this decision.”
Keith Baguley said: “The planning committee have made a sensible decision.
“It’s good news for Horncastle.
“Tesco should now concentrate on their existing store.”
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Steve Newton added: “It’s a good decision
“We don’t want Tesco to leave town and we have no problem with them expanding where they are.
“Now they need to start listening to the people.”
Mr Barker has written to Tesco’s chief executive to request a meeting to discuss Tesco’s next move. Turn to page 15 for Mr Barker’s letter.
* What do you think?
Write to the Editor, Horncastle News, Church Lane, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, LN9 5HW or email firstname.lastname@example.org