Tesco superstore plans divide opinion

Tesco Harrogate artist's impression.

Tesco Harrogate artist's impression.

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Harrogate’s Chamber of Commerce has again called on Tesco to reconsider its planned Harrogate superstore, despite local support for the retailer.

The chamber used the appointment of Tesco’s new chief executive on September 1 to call for the supermarket giant to halt its plans for the former gas works site on Skipton Road.

The chamber claim that the land would be better used for affordable housing and that the traffic caused by the supermarket will gridlock the roads.

However New Park ward Coun Matthew Webber (Lib Dem) has said the chamber should drop the issue as local people want to see the store built.

He said: “The chamber should get out and talk to local people. There is support from local residents. People don’t want to travel across Harrogate to do a supermarket shop.

“This application has already been approved by the council, it has permission. I supported it as a local resident and a local councillor.

“I don’t know why the Chamber of Trade think they should be meddling in this.”

Harrogate Chamber’s chief executive Brian Dunsby has written to Tesco’s top boss to ask him to reconsider the plans for the super store and surrender the land for housing instead.

He said: “There is an urgent need for a lot more affordable housing in Harrogate which would be a far better use of the former gasworks site on a major road not far from Harrogate town centre.”

Mr Dunsby goes on to say that the planned Tesco Express in ther former Skipton Pub building and Aldi store which has been given permission to open on the HarrogateRetail Park will ‘erode the sales potential of the superstore.’

Coun Webber has dismissed these ideas and says it would cost too much money to prepare the land - which is contaminated from its previous use as a gasworks - for housing.

He said: “This side of Harrogate isn’t very well served for supermarkets, an Aldi is not a big enough store.”

Tesco spokesperson Mark Thomas said: “Our proposals for Harrogate will transform the former gasworks and bring major benefits for the town. We appreciate the Chamber’s views and are grateful for all comments, but there is also strong support in the community .

“We keep our plans under review to ensure we are proposing what is best for our customers and the community and if there are any changes we will be sure to provide a further update.”