Planning officers back controversial plans for Tesco store in Swaffham

Controversial plans to build a Tesco superstore in Swaffham should be given the green light, according to a report by planning officers published today.

The retail giant's proposals for the Castle Acre Road site in the north of the Swaffham have divided the town, with some residents welcoming the estimated 100 new jobs a store would create, while others raised concerns about the impact on town centre shops and traffic.

An assessment by Breckland Council's consultants NLP estimated the store would reduce spending in the town centre by 11.7pc overall and some smaller convenience stores could close, but 'widespread closures are not anticipated'.

It added that any negative impacts had to be balanced against reducing the amount of money flowing out of Swaffham and increasing competition and customer choice.

Planning officers concluded: 'The proposed supermarket would not be overly detrimental to the vitality and viability of the town centre. It should also be noted that the applicant has demonstrated that there are no other suitable sites in, or closer, to the town centre.

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'Finally, the scheme would not be harmful to the residential amenity of the locality whilst the applicant would provide adequate financial support to enhance public transport.'

The Co-op, which runs the Rainbow Foodstore in the town, has threatened to take the matter to the High Court if councillors approve the application, arguing tests for other suitable sites and the impact of the store 'are so clearly deficient as to make such a decision perverse'.

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About 30 individuals sent letters about the planning application, with more than two-thirds supporting Tesco's plans, citing employment, better choice and clearing up the existing site.

About 75pc of the supportive letters took the form of a standard letter distributed by communications company Green Issues Communique, on behalf of Millngate, which submitted the planning application.

Breckland councillors are due to decide whether to approve the application at a planning committee meeting at 9.30am on Monday July 9.

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