Plans to build new Tesco store irks residents

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has angered residents and shopkeepers after announcing plans to open a new Express store in Saffron Walden.

The firm is hoping to unveil its second outlet in the town on the site of the old Crocus Tavern pub in Pleasant Valley by early next year.

But the move has incensed nearby residents, with some vowing to start a petition in protest.

Last weekend nearby households received a letter from Tesco outlining its intentions, including Alison Barker, of Pleasant Valley.

She told the Reporter it would be impossible to back the proposal following the rejection of Sainsbury’s plans to build a new out of town superstore.

“Tesco thinks it can just waltz in and continue its monopoly of convenience stores in the area without anyone batting an eyelid,” she said.

“We already have two independent shops on Cromwell Road and another down Rowntree Way – there is no need to build a Tesco Express store here.”

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Mrs Barker added that she and fellow neighbours were also concerned about the number of deliveries Tesco said would be necessary.

“The letter says there are going to be between three and five deliveries a day – that is absolutely mental. Can you imagine the chaos and disruption that would cause down this road, let alone the increase in traffic the new store would generate?”

The bosses of two convenience stores on Cromwell Road – Nisa and Classics newsagents – are also planning to team up in a fight to save their businesses.

John Visana, who has been at the helm of the Nisa store for nearly three decades, said the proposal was a deliberate attempt by Tesco to wipe out the competition.

“Customers have been coming in and telling us they don’t want a Tesco Express here – we already cater for people’s needs and have been doing so for the last 27 years. We don’t need Tesco coming in and destroying small businesses.

“They did this a few years ago and it killed the town centre and now they’re doing the same to neighbourhoods so they can start charging what they want.

“I’m just hoping and praying that we can do something about it so that my business isn’t wiped out.”

However, not all residents are against the idea of a new store, with a number telling the Reporter they would welcome the development.

Carol Leslie, a Tesco spokesman, allayed fears about deliveries, saying they “don’t tend to be late at night”, and added that the company would not be submitting a proposal if it did not feel there was a demand for the store.

“There is a lot of research conducted before proceeding with an application and that includes consulting with residents,” she explained.

“We find Express stores prevent people travelling to larger supermarkets and that in effect benefits local traders.”

Tesco has said the development, which will only require planning permission for minor alterations and signage, and not change of use, would create up to 20 jobs. It will also include an ATM machine and car parking on site.