Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cardigan's Tesco Extension Approved - But at what cost?

After all of the arguing and claim and counter-claim, this current round in Cardigan's Supermarket Wars came to an end yesterday in Ceredigion County Council's monthly Planning Committee meeting.

I've already gone into some depth about the background between the feud between Tesco and the new Sainsbury's store here and here. Sainsbury's finally got their permission last month after years of paralysis on the controversial Bath House site.

Well yesterday, having withdrawn their original plan for a huge extension to their current store alongside the by-pass to the north of the town, Cardigan's Tesco narrowly won approval on a smaller plan to extend their current store despite objections from the Town Council and concerns from local traders on Cardigan'a High St.

I spoke up against the extension in-line with the comments of the Town Council. Having agreed to the new build for Sainsbury's, I didn't feel that there was any need to give an extension to Tesco. There will now be, as well as Aldi and the Co-op in town, plenty of competition. Adding to the amount of non-food conveniance goods that Tescos can sell would I feel, only be to the detriment of the town centre.

The feeling I garnered as the debate unfolded in the Council Chamber yesterday morning was that Tesco for once would end up losing this battle. There were committee members (I, not being a member of the planning committee didn't have a vote but was allowed to speak) from both sides of the chamber speaking against the need to expand so I felt it would fall comfortably. I was therefore rather stunned I must admit when the vote ended with 11 in favour, 9 against and with 2 abstentions.

So Tesco, against the odds I would say, have got their extension. It's akin to going 2 goals down in their fight against Sainsbury's but somehow managing to conjur up an injury-time equaliser.

In the meantime, whilst they fight it out between themselves, I worry for the town centre traders and the impact that this larger out-of-town Tescos will have on them.

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