Friday, 25 February 2011

Tesco gets away with it!

Yesterdays Kirklees Planning Committee approved the Southgate Planning Application. They gave them 9 years to complete the build instead of 3 which means if building regulations impose higher energy efficiency standards in the next few years they'll still be covered by the 2011 laws. In any case Tesco backtracked on earlier commitments to build a high environmental spec store. The plan was approved with no signed commitment on social housing or using local apprenticeships or ensuring the existing Tesco site doesn't remain in use. Traffic will increase almost seven fold at the end of the Leeds Road Air Quality Management Area. The Retail Capacity Study which was conducted as part of the application indicated a 1.8% drop in trade in Huddersfield as a result of the Tesco development. It doesn't sound much but nor is it necessarily believable. The Tesco store being built has capacity for a large mezzanine which could expand it to be one of its largest stores in the country.

Some of the comments by the Councillors on the committee were disappointing. There was the Councillor who remarked at all the shabby empty buildings around the area and how Tesco would improve this. All the properties have been bought up by Tesco so of course they are empty and shabby.  Then of course there were the 'you can't stop progress' comments as if this represents any measure of progress for the town. The store isn't needed, we have plenty of supermarkets, it will destroy jobs as well as create them and have a detrimental impact on our local environment. I'm trying to work out whether it was the Kirklees Budget meeting or the Kirklees Planning meeting that I found must disturbing this week. One thing you could definitely sense at the meeting was the total lack of enthusiasm for the application from Kirklees Council officers and the row of Tesco officials almost rubbing their hands in glee as the Planning Committee rolled over for them to have their collective tummies tickled (with the honorable exception of Clr Christine Iredale). There was a bit of gentle growling about 'conditions' and such like but Tesco know they won't get bitten.

Here's the relevant article in The Examiner

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