Anger as Tesco wins store expansion fight; City suburb site to grow by 50.
SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has won a planning appeal which will allow it to increase the size of its flagship store in south Liverpool by more than 50The Government's Planning Inspectorate has reversed a decision by Liverpool's planning committee which refused to allow the expansion.
The news is a body blow to campaigning local residents who for two years battled against the expansion plans for the store in Mather Avenue, Allerton.
They plan to meet to discuss whether the decision can be challenged in the High Court, but changes of overturning the decision appear slim.
Last night, Tesco said it wanted to set up a residents committee to work with local people over the expansion plans.
They will increase the shopping space to almost 50,000 sq ft and create an extra 100 jobs on top of the existing workforce of 300.
Opponents complained that the Tesco plan would mean the loss of floodlit hockey pitches at the neighbouring University of Liverpool playing fields.
Tesco and the university have reached an agreement that will see the retailer paying for new pitches elsewhere on the playing fields at a cost of pounds 900,000.
In November, a planning inquiry sat in Liverpool to hear arguments following the decision by the council's planning committee to reject the plan.
That decision by councillors - despite a recommendation for approval by planning officials - and the rejection by the council of an earlier scheme, gave residents hope they would win their fight against the firm which is currently dominating the UK grocery market under Liverpool-born chief executive Sir Terry Leahy.
The inspector who conducted the public inquiry studied two alternative plans by Tesco. He accepted the plan that will mean far more tree planting and less encroachment of buildings into the hockey pitch area.
The inspector said his decision had not been influenced by Tesco's offers to pay for other environmental and road improvements in and around the entrance to the store.
One of the biggest protests was raised because opponents said the larger store would encroach into green space.
But the inspector said the hockey pitches, with their artificial surfaces, had little positive visual quality as far as green space was concerned.
In his conclusions, the inspector said: "I have paid the most careful attention to the views of many of the local residents who are opposed to Tesco being allowed to expand their premises. Nevertheless, following the inquiry, I have come to agree with the city council about the lack of real grounds for opposing the Tesco proposals."
Pam Leadbetter, local secretary of the Liverpool branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, said: "I am devastated by the decision. The residents put up a fantastic fight and had many strong arguments about why the scheme should not go ahead." Margaret Rutherford, who lives off Rose Lane, Mossley Hill, said: "I had been quietly confident that we would win because I felt we had a strong case.
"I have never shopped at any Tesco since the original store was forced upon our area. I hate the way these huge conglomerates just force their way into our communities, uninvited."
Shaun Edgerley, Tesco's corporate affairs manager, said"We do understand the concerns raised by some local people and we like to think we can now take things forward in a more amicable way.
"We will set up a committee to liaise with residents to minimise any impact."
It is likely to be next summer before work starts. The store will remain open while the extension is being built
Local residents braved the cold, wind and rain to protest over the extension plan
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Dec 19, 2005|
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