Tesco u-turn af­ter four-year battle to win plan­ning per­mis­sion

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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