TESCO ABANDONS EXPRESS PLAN
Tesco u-turn after four-year battle to win planning permission
TESCO has abandoned plans for an Express store in Harefield, despite winning a four-year battle for planning permission.
The supermarket giant has changed its mind about opening a store in Rickmansworth Road, at a site currently occupied by garages, and is now looking for a buyer for the land.
The company said the change of heart was because of its recent poor trading performance.
A spokeswoman said: “We have reviewed our proposal for an Express store on Rickmansworth Road in Harefield and made the difficult decision not to proceed with our plans.
“We’re very grateful to everyone who supported our proposals and will continue to work hard to serve the local community from our other stores in the area.”
She added: “Our priority now is to work to find an alternative occupier for the site as soon possible.”
The plans involved building a Tesco Express store, with three flats above it, at the site of a former garage, next to the Kings Arms pub.
Some had argued in favour of the project, saying the site had become an eyesore.
But many residents and traders fought the proposals, saying the store would create extra traffic and force existing businesses to close and that its planned location, at a crossroads, was inappropriate.
Leading the fight against Tesco was Atul Sodha, who runs the Londis store in Moorhall Road, Harefield, and who also heads the Small Traders and Businesses of Harefield group. He said he was worried Tesco would simply use the fact that it had planning permission for the site’s development to sell the land to another big business.
He said: “As much as I’m relieved Tesco isn’t going ahead, now it just puts another cloud over Harefield over who’s going to come along and do it instead, so it’s a bit of a concern still.”
He added that any supermarket taking over the site would mean lorries blocking the roads, causing a hazard for patients being taken to Harefield Hospital, in Hill End Road.
Tesco had fought for four years to win planning permission for its proposed store, after Hillingdon Council refused four applications.
An independent inspector gave consent for the development to go forward in May 2011 but the council tried to get the decision overturned by having the High Court launch a judicial review of the planning process.
However, a judge eventually upheld the inspector’s decision, meaning the store could finally be built.
NO GO: The former garage site in Rickmansworth Road, Harefield, that was set to be the site of a proposed Tesco Express store