Tesco store plan on hold

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A CONTROVERSIAL application to build a Tesco superstore in Buxton town centre has been withdrawn, the Buxton Advertiser can reveal.

In September, the supermarket giant submitted plans for a 40,000 sq ft store on Station Road, on a site currently occupied by Buxton Mineral Water.

But the plans, which have caused huge controversy in the area, and led to opposing campaign groups being formed, have now been withdrawn and will not go before High Peak Borough Council’s Development Control Committee on December 12, as had been expected.

Explaining the reasons behind the move, Tesco’s Corporate affairs manager Matthew Magee said: “We have received lots of feedback about our proposals focusing on the design of the store.

“We have decided to withdraw our current application to allow us to reflect on this.

“We are extremely grateful for the comments we have received from organisations like the Buxton Group and Buxton Civic Association and we hope to respond positively in due course.”

The outline application was for a store which would be twice the size of the existing Tesco store in Whaley Bridge. It also included a 50,000 sq ft mixed-use development incorporating student accommodation.

Tesco said the development would create up to 200 new jobs and provide more than 350 free car parking spaces.

But residents have been divided in opinion since the proposals were revealed at the end of last year. A No to Tesco campaign was launched with flags, posters and banners being displayed on many local shops and businesses.

And a Yes to Tesco campaign has also been established, with many people signing up to the opposing groups on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

This week, Vision Buxton have also added their opposition to the plans in an open letter to Tesco and High Peak Borough Council (HPBC).

The local business organisation said they were “surprised and disappointed with the proposals submitted to HPBC.”

They said that a number of issues that were identified at a meeting when Tesco made a presentation to Vision Buxton about their plans have not been addressed “beyond bland reassurance in the technical supporting documents that all will be well.”

The letter continues: “Inexplicably the scheme appears to have been moved in a direction contrary to that suggested by the collective thrust of the concerns expressed.” Among the concerns Vision Buxton have raised about the development are: more vehicle movement caused by a large car park; the design of the building and the lack of integration with the town centre.

Tesco had said that the location of the store and the free car parking would mean that people would use the store and then walk into town centre shops, but this was disputed by Vision Buxton. “The proposed additional pedestrian crossing is at best an irrelevance. When those using it reach the town centre side of Station Road they are presented with a blank wall to the Spring Gardens car park which lies several metres below the level of the pavement,” said Vision Buxton.

“They will have to traverse either left or right to gain access to the shopping heart of the town. This will take them past the existing pedestrian crossings. The distance required to be covered and the inconvenience is unaltered. There is no improvement in connectivity.”

The letter concludes: “It is difficult not to be drawn towards the conclusion that this consultation exercise has not been taken seriously. As public consultation is regarded as an essential part of major development proposals (a legal requirement with the passing of the Localism Act) this would be a highly damaging conclusion to be drawn.”

Nestle, who own Buxton Mineral Water, are currently building a new bottling plant at Waterswallows and will be relocating there from Station Road.