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Tesco store war is back!
BATTLE has resumed over a controversial plan to build another Tesco supermarket in Basingstoke.
A planning inquiry started on Tuesday as bosses at the supermarket giant attempt to overturn the rejection of their plan by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to build a new 63,000 sq ft store on the old Smiths Industries site, in The Harrow Way.
Members of the development control committee went against the advice of planning officers in rejecting the plan last July, claiming it would have a detrimental effect on local shops.
The committee also raised concerns about Tesco’s proposed highway improvements to Brighton Hill Roundabout.
Harriet Townsend, a barrister representing the borough council, told the inquiry that the committee “made the right decision”, and evidence from two independent experts, appointed in November last year, supported the councillors.
She told planning inspector Ken Barton: “Things have moved on considerably since July 2012. You have the benefit of much more information than was available to those officers advising the council.
“It is this evidence which we invite you to focus on in your assessment of the appeal.”
But Christopher Katkowski, representing Tesco, said there was “no sound basis” for the refusal.
He added that there was no evidence a new store would harm the Brighton Hill District Centre, which includes the ASDA supermarket, and that the proposed multi-million pound package of traffic measures would make Brighton Hill Roundabout safer for pedestrians.
Other interested parties at the hearing include ASDA, and the Tesco Action Group, led by Cumberland Avenue resident Ruth Burton. It claims the plan is not wanted by local residents and is dangerous to vulnerable road users.
The appeal received support from at least one member of the public – Anthony Bravo, principal of Basingstoke College of Technology.
He said: “I believe that this development will produce good employment opportunities for students of the college both during the construction and after completion of the build.”
But Councillor Colin Regan, Labour borough councillor for the South Ham ward, said he was concerned that smaller shops in Kings Road and Buckland Avenue might be forced to close if Tesco wins the appeal.
The hearing at the borough council’s Civic Offices, in London Road, is expected to last for two weeks.