New Tesco would cost town centre 38 per cent of its business, council told
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a town's first supermarket should go back to the drawing board, says a local councillor.
Councillor Brian Galipeau said Tesco should rethink its proposal for a store on Barbican Road, in East Looe.
He made the comments after a council-commissioned report pointed to a worrying effect on local trade.
Now Cllr Galipeau is calling for the supermarket giant to consider an alternative Cornish site at Polean, in West Looe.
Cornwall Council enlisted independent consultants GVA Grimley to conduct a retail impact study into the plans.
Experts found Tesco's bid could cost town centre businesses up to 38 per cent of their trade, said Cllr Galipeau, who emphasised that he was speaking on his own behalf rather than for the council.
"The findings of the report are hardly surprising to those of us who have long been in favour of bringing a decent supermarket into Looe, and oppose out-of-town development," he said.
"With more than 80 per cent of Looe people doing their main shop in other towns, countless millions of pounds worth of trade must have been lost to the town during the wasted years since Polean was first considered for a supermarket."
Cllr Galipeau said a benefit of the transfer to Polean would be to improve the integration of the shopping options in East and West Looe.
"The shops on each side of town seem to be promoted as separate centres at the moment, which may be holding them all back," he said.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the firm was pressing ahead with its plans, which are due go before Cornwall Council on December 13.
She said 80 per cent of people who responded to a public consultation in the town had declared their support for the development.
The town council had also not objected and a motion to reject the Tesco plans had been overturned, she said.
"At present, three quarters of people in Looe are leaving Looe to do their food shopping," the spokeswoman said.
"Despite what this report says, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that people aren't shopping in Looe town centre anyway."
She added that Tesco had considered the Polean site and had visited it with members of the town council, but it was shown to be unsuitable for a food store because of accessibility problems.