New Tesco store given the go-ahead

COUNCILLORS said they were powerless to stop the approval of a new Tesco Express store in Saffron Walden despite concerns over traffic congestion, the impact on town centre trade and unsociable delivery times.

The supermarket giant unveiled proposals for its second outlet in the town on the site of the old Crocus Tavern pub in Pleasant Valley back in September – which went before members of Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee yesterday (Wednesday).

Despite protests from residents and vociferous representations from the mayor, a spokesman from residents’ campaign group Saffron Walden Against Tesco and two councillors on the planning committee, officers said there were no grounds to oppose the application.

Cllr Doug Perry said: “This is a sad day for Saffron Walden. There has been no support from residents for this development to go through and they feel powerless to stop it.

“The town already has a huge Tesco store which runs 24 hours a day and has recently been given permission to expand.

“Why are we allowing them a monopoly when the community is so strongly opposed to this development?”

He also urged people to support “local businesses” and said there were six under threat because of the impact of this proposal.

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Cllr Bob Eastham said he was “depressed” by the explanation officers had given as to why councillors were not able to reject to change of use, adding councillors were “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.

Chairman Jackie Cheetham told Cllr Eastham members “had two hands tied behind their backs” but said the committee had to obey the law, as no change of use was required from a pub to a retail unit.

“It is a permitted development and the only reason it is in front of us is because the applicant wants to put in a new shop front, glass windows at the front and a new access ramp. All we can do is send an informative note listing our concerns with the application,” she explained.

The application was approved nine to two. Tesco hopes to open its new store early next year.