New move in row over supermarket on stilts.
CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop a supermarket on stilts in Wirral have been referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Proposals to expand the Tesco store in Heswall have been thrown out by Wirral planning officials.
But it emerged last night that the supermarket giant is now taking its fight to the highest level and the plans will go to a public inquiry.
Councillors decided to refuse permission for Tesco to expand in Telegraph Road believing it would result in "an unacceptable overbearing impact" on nearby homes.
They also believe the expansion would have an "unacceptable dominating impact" on woodland and open space in the area which has been designated as urban greenspace in Wirral's Unitary Development Plan.
Last night, Heswall councillor Stephen Rowlands said:
"This development may enhance the store, but it will do absolutely nothing for the area or the local people.
"The proposals were given a good hearing, including a site visit, and the planning department decided that the development would be too close to houses and obtrusive to people's views.
"Tesco obviously does not care about this.
"The fact that Tesco has now decided to go to the Secretary of State is something which worries me. In effect, Tesco is having two bites at the cherry when the people of Heswall have only had one.
"Heswall is one of Tesco's most profitable stores and obviously it wants to expand.
There is no room for expansion in this area and any extension would be totally out of keeping with the area.
"The site is already cramped."
Coun Rowlands added that attempts were made to warn Tesco there would be no room for expansion before they moved on to the site in 1994 "but they would not listen".
Heswall Civic Society has also raised concerns over the plans. Chairman Stuart Marsden said the group was very concerned about the new building which he said would be "dominating and extremely close to houses in Broomlands".
But a Tesco spokesman claimed an expansion would be popular with local customers: "We do listen to the views of local people but obviously we cannot please everyone.
"This is a very popular store and we believe an extension would be of great benefit to customers and popular with local people. We do not just extend for the sake of it. We want to offer more and believe it will work.
"We are aware of certain concerns and we naturally do listen and try to address them within the scheme."
The expansion, developed on stilts because the ground falls away rapidly, would create 1,322 sq ft of retail space, expanding the store by a third.
It would include a customer service area, extra tills and additional floor space. Fifty new jobs would also be created, together with an extra 55 car parking spaces.
A date for the public inquiry, to be held at Wallasey Town Hall, has yet to be set.