Tesco and Sainsbury's fight for expansion in Saffron Walden

A BATTLE between two supermarket giants for expansion in Saffron Walden has heated up after advanced reports were put before Uttlesford District Council s (UDC s) planning committee.

A BATTLE between two supermarket giants for expansion in Saffron Walden has heated up after advanced reports were put before Uttlesford District Council's (UDC's) planning committee.

Councillors began the process of deciding whether development plans put forward by rival supermarkets should be given the green light, at a meeting last Wednesday.

The advance reports set out the relevant issues which will determine if an expansion of Tesco on Radwinter Road and a new Sainsbury's on Thaxted Road can go ahead.

Opposing campaign groups - which were set up by Saffron Walden residents to fight or support the applications - were also given their first opportunity to address the decision-making committee.

Although councillors did not express opinions at this stage of the proceedings they did ask planning officers to consider a number of different issues when preparing the final report.

One of these issues was the need for a new supermarket in Saffron Walden, including shopping habits of residents in the town and the surrounding area.

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After the meeting, Paul Gadd, from Save Walden Town Centre, emailed councillors saying that a report by the Competition Commission from 2008 gives evidence that Saffron Walden "already has more supermarket coverage than the national average".

Mr Gadd added that the town had two large supermarkets - Tesco and Waitrose - which was more than enough to support the catchment area of about 30,000 people.

"To support a third supermarket we would need an absolute minimum of 10,000 more people in north Uttlesford," he said.

At the meeting Nicky Agar, from campaign group Saffron Walden Needs Sainsbury's (SWANS), urged councillors to support a new Sainsbury's because it would be welcome competition for Tesco.

She said: "Tesco currently has a near monopoly in Saffron Walden. Waitrose is not adequate competition and Tesco is exploiting this to their advantage. Prices at Tesco are far higher than other Tesco stores out of this area, as is the price of fuel."

Mrs Agar also spoke of the benefits Sainsbury's would bring to the town including 350 jobs, upgrades to junctions affected by increased traffic, improved cycle and pedestrian links to the town centre and an improved bus service.

A meeting to determine the fate of the supermarkets' applications will be held in late June.

SHOULD the supermarkets be given permission to expand in Saffron Walden?

E-mail us at editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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