Tesco store plan finally revealed
TESCO is already sailing into a sea of opposition after finally submitting a planning application for its proposed St Albans superstore. After years of waiting, proposals by the supermarket giant to build a 4,000 square metre store on the site of the form
TESCO is already sailing into a sea of opposition after finally submitting a planning application for its proposed St Albans superstore.
After years of waiting, proposals by the supermarket giant to build a 4,000 square metre store on the site of the former Eversheds print works in London Road arrived at the district council offices this week.
But local politicians and objectors are already warning that the scheme is too large and will generate huge traffic problems.
If the application is successful, the store will take approximately a year to build and will incorporate seven independent shops, a 490-space underground car park, and generate 270 jobs.
As part of the plans, Tesco will refurbish 12 derelict houses in London Road to sell and will retain locally-listed houses in Alma Road - but three other locally-listed properties in Inkerman Road will be demolished.
Tesco is also offering to add a dedicated right-hand turn lane to enter the underground car park from London Road, separating shoppers' cars from other traffic.
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Following consultation with surrounding residents last summer, Tesco reduced the size of the proposed store by 18 per cent and reduced the number of car parking spaces from 546 to 490.
A second consultation document was sent out to 15,000 nearby homes and businesses in November to find out what the public thought of the revised plans.
Tesco spokesman Michael Kissman maintained this week that the amended plans were so well received that few changes had been made to them.
He said the company had submitted new and very detailed traffic survey information with the application which demonstrated that the store would not cause traffic jams.
Mr Kissman stressed that the store had been designed to be in keeping with the local area and the shops at the front would prevent the supermarket being seen from the street.
And he justified the length of time that Tesco had taken to submit the application by saying they had to get it exactly right.
But Simon Hepburn of Stop Tesco St Albans rejected Tesco's claims saying the store would take away retail jobs away from the city centre and traffic would increase by 70 per cent.
He also countered claims that the store was supported by local residents saying that they had a petition opposing it signed by 5,500 local people.
He commented: "We are pleased that Tesco has finally put an application in - we hope it will be speedily rejected and we can do something better with the site for the people of St Albans."
St Albans MP Anne Main felt that despite the reduction in size, the proposed store was still too big and that the congestion problems would be just as bad.
She added: "While the protection of some of the listed houses under the new proposal is welcome, the fact remains that a store this size will be detrimental to city-centre businesses and is simply not needed."
Speaking as a Cunningham Ward councillor, council leader Robert Donald said the store would create a lot of problems.
He argued that traffic in London Road was already extremely heavy on market days and the filter lane proposed by Tesco would be totally inadequate in dealing with the problem.
He added: "There is no way you can have a store of that size in that location with the road network we have - it is in the wrong place."
n Tesco has bought the Shredded Wheat factory in Welwyn Garden City raising the prospect of two new stores being built on each side of its existing large supermarket at Jack Oldings Corner in Hatfield.