UPDATE: Co-op considers High Court challenge after Tesco receives permission for Swaffham superstore

The Co-op could mount a High Court challenge to this morning's decision to approve plans for a Tesco superstore in Swaffham.

Breckland councillors backed the proposals for the Castle Acre Road site by an eight to three margin after weighing a projected 11.7pc loss of income for town centre shops against new jobs and greater consumer choice.

The Anglian Co-operative, which operates the Rainbow Foodstore in Swaffham town centre, had said in its April 20 objection to the planning application it would seek a judicial review of any decision to approve the plans.

It had said the council's assessments of alternative sites and the proposed store's impact were 'so clearly deficient as to make such a decision perverse'.

Following the announcement of today's planning decision, a spokesman for Anglia Co-operative said: 'We are still considering what our reaction will be. We have not made a firm decision.'

At today's meeting, Tesco representative Louise Gosling said the company would fund a new bus service and improved pedestrian access to the town centre, pay for improvements to shop fronts and had heard from 250 people interested in the store's 50 full-time and 100 part-time jobs.

Councillor Terry Lamb said that although Tesco was popular, supermarkets were damaging town centres, while Swaffham town clerk Richard Bishop said the town council supported the proposals by a majority vote to give people a place to do all their weekly shop and provide a clothes shop in the town.

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Swaffham councillor Frank Sharpe said: 'I would not vote for this application in any way if I did not believe it was beneficial to the town. That's the bottom line. I believe this is what the town needs.

'There's many a time when I have been approached by people in the town who say 'Why does Swaffham not get anything and Dereham gets it?' Well, Swaffham will get a Tesco and that's a start.'

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