Traders’ fury as Tesco bags new store approval

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PLANS for a new Tesco superstore are expected to be given the go-ahead despite objections from three community councils, a traders’ association and retail rival Sainsbury’s.

Tesco wants to build a 4600 square metre store at an old candleworks site in Broxburn, West Lothian. The plan would include a petrol station, a 335-space car park and result in a new link road built.

But Sainsbury’s, which also wants to move into Broxburn and has submitted plans for its own store at another site in the town, has argued that its application should be heard at the same time as Tesco’s.

Traders have raised fears that a huge new store could kill off High Street by drawing customers out of town centres, while Broxburn Community Council, Winchburgh Community Council and Ecclesmachan & Threemiletown Community Council have also voiced their objections.

Despite the concerns, Chris Norman, development management manager for West Lothian Council, has recommended that the plan is given the green light at a meeting of the council’s development management committee on Wednesday.

Tom Roy, chairman of Broxburn Community Council, said: “The council are going against the wishes of the community. We feel strongly that we have not been listened to.

“It’s going to kill the High Street, which is quiet as it is. If it had been a Tesco Express we would have shaken their hands.

“People are angry about it. We are looking for choice but we don’t want something thrown at us.”

A spokesperson for Broxburn and Uphall Traders Association added: “We perceive the Tesco application as being the most detrimental to traders’ interests in the High Street.

“Things are difficult here and they have been for quite a few years, but we still enjoy a higher than average occupancy rate compared to other towns.

“The applications should be heard at the same time, especially as Sainsbury’s put theirs in first.”

The council has claimed that a retail impact report, submitted by Tesco, showed that a supermarket could be accommodated in Broxburn without having an unacceptable impact on smaller traders.

Council officials admitted that ideally the Tesco and Sainsbury’s applications should be heard at the same time, but said that they were still waiting for important information from Sainsbury’s and did not think it was reasonable to delay the Tesco application.

The candleworks site was one of the first oil shale works in Scotland and produced heavy oil, paraffin, candle wax and other by-products between the 1890s and 1980.

As a result of its former use, much of the land is contaminated. Tesco has provided a decontamination strategy and may be required to decontaminate the entire site.

THORNY ISSUE

Plans for large developments or efforts of multinational chains to move into communities have repeatedly provoked anger.

More than 1000 people made representations during a consultation period last month over a planned £90 million housing and supermarket development in Linlithgow.

A row also erupted recently over Sainsbury’s plans to open a new store in Bruntsfield.

More than 200 residents and business owners attended a meeting, with some vowing to drive shoppers away from the supermarket giant until it closed.

In Morningside, campaigners attempted to halt Costa Coffee from moving in, but the chain gained permission to open the 58th coffee outlet in the space of a mile.