Opinion divided over supermarket set for approval
A NEW supermarket on the outskirts of a fishing port could be approved by planners today – despite warnings it could strip the town centre of a third of its trade.
Tesco has applied to build a 25,000sq ft store with 250 car parking spaces and a petrol station in Looe, in South East Cornwall.
The application, which has been recommended for approval subject to a number of conditions, has divided opinion in the town.
Many said they would welcome the arrival of its first, large supermarket.
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However, opponents have pointed to a report commissioned by Cornwall Council outlining the likely damage to the town centre.
The report points to another, more favourable site at Polean in West Looe, which has been the subject of a bid by Morrisons.
But today's decision could pave the way for Tesco to build the store – along with 36 affordable homes – on Barbican Road, opposite Looe Community Academy on the East side of the town.
A spokesman for Looe Strategy Group said the store would "ruin the long-term future health and prosperity of the town if passed".
"We are worried that, by siting the supermarket out of town, the commercial focus of Looe would be split in two opposing directions," the spokesman said.
"One would have free parking and the other not. How many would then choose the centre when they could park freely up on the hill?
"Government planning policies prescribe against urban sprawl or out-of-town development and exist to protect and enhance the environment. They recognise the high street to be the heart of the community and seek to rejuvenate our town centres and to restore their viability and vitality and yet this Tesco application does just the opposite because the location is wrong.
"We are not against a supermarket in Looe per se, but contend that this proposal is premature because there is a more central, viable and preferable brownfield site at Polean next to the main car park waiting to be developed."
Among the proposed legal conditions for the development are a £100,000 payment for enhancements to Looe town centre.
However, a report to councillors outlines the possible damage to existing traders – one of the reasons for Looe Town Council's objection.
The papers state: "In relation to the impact of the proposed supermarket on the trading position of Looe town centre, GVA Grimley, who act as retail consultant for the council, advise that the health of the centre will be harmed via the loss of a large level of trade/turnover and subsequent loss of vitality and a potential increase in the number of vacancies within the centre. The cumulative impact is considered to be 38 per cent or one third of the retail expenditure from the town centre as a whole as a consequence of the proposed supermarket."
Read the planning decision as soon as we get it on www.thisisplymouth.co.uk