Swaffham councillors rebuff plea from Co-op to reconsider support for Tesco plans

Swaffham councillors have rejected an appeal from the Co-op to reconsider their support for plans for a new Tesco store on the town's outskirts.

A divided town council last month decided, on the casting vote of then-mayor Shirley Matthews, to write a letter backing the application when it comes before Breckland council's planning committee.

The March 27 meeting heard competing claims the proposed store could take business from town centre shops, but could also provide 50 full-time and 100 part-time jobs.

Consultants acting for Anglia Regional Co-op, which operates the Rainbow foodstore in the town centre, expressed surprise about the council's position in a letter dated April 20.

Tim Partridge, operations director of RPS, wrote: 'We note the town council has concern regarding town centre vitality and note that the town council are seeking measures within a section 106 agreement to address and compensate for affects on vitality on the town centre to ensure Swaffham continues to thrive.

'We fail, however, to understand how a section 106 agreement could ensure the impact of an out-of-centre food supermarket would not draw significant levels of trade and customers from the town centre to the detriment of its vitality and viability.'

He dismissed Tesco's claim the store would attract customers from King's Lynn, Dereham and Thetford, and said it would need to attract 'far more customers' from Swaffham town centre stores, and he asked to address the council about his position.

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However, councillors meeting on Wednesday May 9 decided it was too late to revisit the council's decision.

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