Beeston Store Wars: Fresh twist in Tesco and Asda planning saga

Councillors sitting on a council plans panel at Leeds Civic Hall this afternoon have gone AGAINST planning officers’ recommendations to refuse plans for new Asda and Tesco stores in Old Lane, Beeston.

Members of the south and west plans panel heard that planning officers were recommending that BOTH plans – for Tesco to build a new store on the former Moorhouse Jam Factory site and Asda to demolish its existing store and build a larger one on the same site – be refused.

An artist’s impression of what the revamped Beeston Asda would look like

However councillors  voted to OVERRULE the officers’ recommendations, with some saying they were broadly supportive of BOTH stores. 

They asked planning officers to bring back a report to a future plans panel providing more information on the cumulative impact two stores would have on the surrounding area and the impact of extra traffic on the community.

Once a further report is brought back before panel, councillors will make a final decision on whether to approve one, both or neither of the stores.

But many councillors gave a strong steer to planning officers at the meeting that they were sympathetic to having retail development in the Old Lane area.

Planning officers fear approving new stores in Old Lane would damage the chances of nearby Dewsbury Road – which is designated an important ‘town centre’ in planning terms – attracting a similar supermarket and could also result in the decline of existing stores elsewhere in Beeston (on Town St and the Tommy Wass crossroads).



Councillors debated Tesco’s application first.

Tesco’s detailed plans are for a new convenience retail store with a net floorspace of almost 1,500 square metres, with opening hours of 7.30pm Monday to Saturday and be open six hours on a Sunday. It would employ 36 full-time staff and 84 part-timers and have 163 parking spaces.

Cllr Javaid Akhtar (Lab, Hyde Park and Woodhouse) said people were going through ‘hard times’ financially and had a right to decide where they wanted to shop.

Cllr Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley and Stanningley) said councillors were in danger of allowing policy to have too heavy an influence over their decision. She added:

“There may be more creative ways of developing Dewsbury Road in the future and helping it flourish – a supermarket [as per officers’ recommendations] may not be one of them.

“A new store on this site will enhance the area and create jobs and I think we should be finding more ways to move forward with this.”

Cllr Mick Coulson (Lab, Pudsey) said he could not think of anywhere at the bottom of Dewsbury Road where a supermarket would sit.

And Cllr Rod Wood (Cons, Calverley and Farsley) said he wanted to approve both Tesco’s and Asda’s plans and allow the stores to fight it out as to which one was financially sustainable. “That is their problem, not ours. It’s the market,” he added.

It was left to Middleton Park Labour councillor Paul Truswell to sound a word of caution, saying more information was needed before members could make an informed decision on the plans. He urged officers to bring back a further report with more information before ‘the death knell was potentially sounded on Dewsbury Road as a fully fledged town centre’. He added: “Dewsbury Road cannot be allowed to wither on the vine.”

Representatives from Tesco said that the store would bring more local jobs and more choice and that their plans were widely supported in the local community. They said there were no suitable sites for them to build a new store in Dewsbury Road.

There had been 37 letters of objection,  as well as objection letters from the Post Office, Oasis Dental Practice, Leeds Civic Society, Beeston Co-op and Hunslet Morrisons.

Councillors then debated the Asda application.

Asda’s outline (initial) plans are to demolish the existing store (formerly a Netto) and replace with a new larger store with 1,903 square metres of retail space. There would be a car park of approximately 195 spaces. The store is proposed to be open 24 hours and employ around 100 full-time staff.

Much of the debate took place during the tesco application. Morley North Morley Borough Indpendent Cllr Robert Finnigan summed up:

“Planning officers have a strong steer that the panel is sympathetic to the fact that we need to have something on Old Lane.”

Pointing to large support in the community for the plans, Asda communications manager Philip Bartram said the current store did not serve customers adequately, pointed to Asda’s work in the community and said the supermarket giant offered ‘real regeneration and real jobs’. He added:

“Let the market decide which is the best way forward.”

A representative from Hugh Gaitskell School spoke of Asda’s support for the school.

Six people have objected to the scheme, with 11 in support (including one petition with 1,000 signatures). Objectors include Beeston Co-op and Hunslet Morrisons. Tesco has also strongly objected, claiming:

“We believe that this application is no more than a blocking tactic to protect Asda’s own interests at an out of town site in Beeston …”

Speaking on both applications, planning officers said that they would need to look at the impact the new Asda in Middleton, which is due to start building work next April, and the planned new supermarkets on Old Lane might have on areas like Hunslet District Centre and its Morrisons.

South Leeds Life will continue to keep you updated on the latest in this long-running planning saga.

What do you think? One, both or neither? Should Dewsbury Road be designated a town centre? Will the decision impact on Dewsbury Road’s future? Who’s right – the councillors or planning officers? Have your say in the comments section below.




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16 Replies to “Beeston Store Wars: Fresh twist in Tesco and Asda planning saga”

  1. This seems the right decision to me and is a good argument for local democracy!

    Of course it would be good if Dewsbury Road was more commercially viable but, as Cllr Coulson said, where is the appropriate site for a supermarket of the size we’re talking about? Two of the main problems for Dewsbury Road are lack of car parking and traffic congestion so I would guess very few people drive to shop there and given the busyness of Dewsbury Road it’s not a pleasant place to wonder about as a pedestrian with children.

    I would not want to see both schemes approved as I doubt if the market would stand both and the Co-op and while the market can ‘fight it out’ it will be local residents who are left with a closed shop on their doorstep and what goes with that. What is needed as far as can be predicted is long term sustainable development.

    If Asda is granted approval we need to be sure they are really committed to it and it isn’t a spoiling tactic to prevent Tesco’s development or they scale down their proposals because of their proposed development at Middleton, or worse still, don’t proceed with Middleton.

    Whichever scheme is approved it seems to me there are three things that are critical:
    (a) Locking in the development dates as far as that is possible
    (b) Maximising planning gain and in terms of (b)
    (c) Ensuring local employment and training benefits primarily for people living in Leeds 11

    By ensuring I mean not relying on the developer’s goodwill but the Council and third sector providing assistance to them to help make it happen and publishing what has been achieved and the Council levying penalties for non-achievment.

  2. Some interesting points there, Steve.

    I suspect Dewsbury Road needs to find other answers than a supermarket to reinvigorate it – but what exactly?

    It will be very interesting to see what the planning officers recommend when the applications come back to plans panel. I’d be surprised if they recommended both plans for approval. In face I wouldn’t be surprise to see them recommending refusal again.

    Can’t wait to see the panel’s next move!

  3. ASDA have already scaled back their plans in Middleton, presumably because they expect to get permission in Beeston. It looks like the plans panel has finally started to grow some balls and actually represent their constituents. Hopefully in a year or so SLL will be reporting the opening of two ASDA’s a Tesco and an ALDI for the area, dramatically improving the shopping options, which in turn should have a positive impact on many areas e.g. property values.

  4. The council needs to stop delaying this and regenerate the area by approving either both these plans or just the Tesco application, creating jobs in the area that are needed asap. Old lane is an eye sore with the empty land, constantly attracting gypsies. Asda won the day for Middleton, so give Tesco the green light for old lane. Dewsbury road has no where appropriate for either of these plans and it is ridiculous that this would be suggested. Finance, trade and jobs these plans would bring to this area, and also help the regeneration of old lane. The only other option in the area for food shopping is COOP for locals, that is expensive, limited range and dam right poor service never enough people to serve the paying consumer. This is a convenience store not a large store to cater for all the needs a weekly big shop demands. Morrison’s is an alternate, but is either a 15 minute car journey or a hop on a bus. Consent for both of these would eliminate all of this.

  5. Dewsbury Road is getting an Iceland due to open this month and a new supermarket too – the New Inn Pub is supposed to be getting converted.
    Hunslet Shopping Centre and Lidl are not far away but they got rid of the no 61 bus which was great for people in Beeston with no cars. The White Rose Shopping Centre is at least well served by public transport.
    Do we really need another large supermarket? I am sad that people seem to be brain washed by the large supermarkets and their bribes. They promise jobs but in reality seem keener on self service tills!!! Netto was a much friendlier place. I would love to see investment in small independent shops. A nice bakery, a greengrocers, deli etc. People need to ditch their dependency on cars for once and make an effort to do some of their shopping in small independent shops before they are all turned into fast food outlets!!!

  6. In the UK, the grocery market is increasingly controlled by a few very large food processors and retailers, making large profits. Their success is partly based on trading practices that are having serious consequences for suppliers, farmers and workers worldwide, local shops and the environment. The introduction of a supermarket can ruin the local character of an area.

    The dominance of large food processors and supermarkets:
    (a) results in closure of small, local retailers and a net loss of jobs
    (b) encourages unnecessary transportation of food
    (c) makes farmers increasingly reliant on one or two large customers for their livelihood
    (d) forces down ‘farm gate’ prices through an unacceptable level of control over the prices paid to producers
    (e) often results in unfair contractual terms with farmers and rejection of food that fails to meet size, shape or cosmetic criteria
    (f) prioritises ‘shelf life’ and favours mass-produced food of low nutritional value
    (g) favours larger farms and industrialised farming practices
    (h) can reduce resilience to ‘shocks’ in the supply chain, since food processors and supermarkets are less flexible than consumers to changes in supply.

    Multinational agribusiness companies increasingly control global supply chains, commodity markets and the supply of seeds and other agricultural resources, including land. This tends to disadvantage poorer countries and threatens the independence and livelihoods of farmers globally.

    That’s why I think the Green Party has the best approach to protecting local businesses and communities, and has a more rational and farsighted view about the negative effects supermarkets bring to a location that people forget in the rush for “cheap” food and new jobs. The Green Party policies around this subject are:

    We will use competition legislation and other legislation to reduce the power of large food processors and retailers, strongly discourage mergers and prevent monopolies from emerging.

    A legally binding supermarket Code of Practice will be introduced to ensure that all farmers and suppliers, in the UK and elsewhere, are treated fairly, and that the grocery market also operates in the interests of small retailers and consumers. A fully independent supermarket Ombudsman will be introduced to monitor the compliance with and effectiveness of this code.

    Planning policies will be introduced to favour local shops and protect the high street. When dealing with a planning application for a new supermarket, local authorities will be required to take into consideration the full extent to which the supermarket would affect local shops, employment, transport links and the amount of local produce being sold in the area. Caps on retail floor space may be imposed and smaller retailers supported with lower business rates.

    New rules will be introduced to protect workers’ rights and the environment in both this country and overseas. It will be the responsibility of supermarkets and food processors to ensure that their suppliers meet these rules.

    The Green Party will introduce new corporate accountability legislation making companies, including supermarkets and food producers, accountable for their impacts on communities and the environment.


    As a local Cross Flatts resident I’d like to see neither Asda nor Tesco be successful in their application in Beeston. Asda in particular are part of the Walmart family who have poor reputation in America(1) and were one of the firms partaking in the appalling practice of “Dead Peasant Insurance”(2), taking out life insurance on their staff without their knowledge and profiting from unexpected early deaths. More issues with Tesco and other large supermarkets can be found at the Tescopoly(3) website.

    I’d personally like to see the land used for local businesses, preferably manufacturing ones that can help bring skilled decent jobs to the area, and get us making things again locally rather than having to import goods. There is growing market for green technologies and we should be promoting those. As someone who has worked in a supermarket myself in the past, I know such employment is rarely fulfilling and rewarding, and will lead to a net loss of jobs as other local businesses fold. Given that traffic congestion is a regular complaint at the Beeston Community Forum, I don’t see how opening a supermarket on Old Land is going to help that in any way at all, quite the opposite. Leading to more pollution, more accidents, and greater congestion.


  7. Lots of interesting points in the comments.

    I don’t think there is any doubt that despite some of the disadvantages and poor practices of (some) supermarkets they have made a wider variety of food available at lower prices. While I have some sympathy for many of Andy’s points the reality is that to make real changes of the kind he argues for requires a level of international agreement that seems extremely unlikely and effective policing -neither of which I think is likely. It would probably increase prices and restrict what food is available and I can’t see any political party getting elected on that basis particularly in the present economic situation.

    I suspect most people would prefer the land used for local businesses or manufacturing but this is not going to happen because the market for these kind of uses has no confidence it can make profit. If it is a choice between supermarket development or nothing else in the foreseeable future then I think supermarket development is preferable provided local jobs are provided.

    1. I feel I have to speak up for the Co-op. It’s definitely the friendliest supermarket I know and the staff always have time to say hello. Long queues for the tills? My experience is that the number of customers fluctuates wildly and the staff seem pretty responsive when a queue does build up and they get extra tills opened quickly. The range of goods has improved since the last reorganisation, although I’m glad I’ve given up drinking as their red wine selection has deteriorated drastically. The thing I like most about the Co-op is that I know the money I spend there isn’t lining the pockets of some faceless (but probably posh and southern) shareholder. The Co-op is owned by its members (including me) and as a result it has led the way on food labeling, fair trade and animal welfare issues.

  8. I agree with Suzanne, Andy and Jeremy. I shop regularly at the Co-op and find its staff friendly. When I want to do a really big shop I go to Hunslet Morrisons. This is not that difficult. I hate the Tesco Express in Dewsbury Road with a passion. Despite all Tesco’s fine words about supporting fair trade and organic food finding either there is a challenge. It is far from friendly.
    I hear that Tesco made lots of promises to the local area when it opened in Seacroft but once it was up and running their so-called commitment disappeared.
    Increased traffic concerns me. Beeston already has high rates of childhood asthma, which I believe are related to the nearby motorways. Why attract yet more cars?
    I hate the way large supermarkets with poor employment practices are taking over from local businesses. We already have the Co-op, White Rose, Morrisons, soon an Iceland and Abu Bakar, the horrible Tesco Express and small shops: why do we need more? I’m with the officers and not the councillors, except for Paul Truswell, on this one.

  9. Perhaps the wasteland on Old Lane could be turned into more allotments/community garden and the people of Beeston could actually produce their own food!!

  10. Steve – while I appreciate some of the suggestions are not going to be easy due to the points you have made, it comes down to the old environmental slogan – Think global, act local. If local communities are not prepared to fight back against the corporations whether it be with campaigns or with their wallets, then we will end up with characterless clone towns reliant on the whim of the multinationals for our livelihood. Given that globalisation sees work going wherever it is cheapest, or it dives down wages so companies remain “competitive”, I question the quality of work that these stores will provide long term. Furthermore if the supermarkets’ quest to deliver cheaper food continues unabated then farmers will go out of business, supplies will fall, and prices will go up. The cost of transportation from further afield will increase as will the environmental damage. Better to have realistic prices that are sustainable for the long term rather than “cheap” prices that destroy businesses, jobs, and ultimately will rise anyway. I fear in 20 years time we may all regret Asda or Tesco building a supermarket on Old Lane when the rest of Beeston is like a ghost town. We should support local businesses of people who live in the area before these large firms who typically do not put as much back. Seventy per cent of the money spent at local businesses stays local, whereas 30% of money spent at large national / international companies ends up back in the local economy.

    Jeremy – I agree. The Co-op, while recently being criticised for using the dreadful Atos company for some HR work, are one of the more ethical supermarkets, and like you I am a member. Interestingly they don’t score as highly as you’d think in the Ethical Consumer magazine ratings but they are way ahead of the likes of Asda and Tesco. Our local store is friendly, the staff prepared to have a brief chat at the tills, and I agree whenever there’s a sudden rush staff appear to get on the check-outs and get the queues down quickly. The Co-op also seems to exist along side other local businesses, where I fear bigger stores will destroy them.

  11. Officers of LCC are the professionals and the experts. Councillors are there to listen to the people and represent them. Sometimes that means following Officer advice to do what is best for the community. There must have been good reason for Officers to turn this down as they have little scope for rejection , the planning laws favour the developer. I too back the Officers in this case.

  12. The supermarkets must surely not be able to believe their luck: a community fighting to host them! Who organised the 1,000-strong Asda petition? Wow. Predictably for those who know me, I’m with Andy/Al/Suzanne/Jeremy – but it seems like these arguments need to be communicated to many good folk in our community. Or else people inevitably go with the old supermarket BS: we’ll create jobs, regeneration, etc. I think Andy’s point about the long-term impact is key: supermarkets generate an initial buzz but lead to the long-term hollowing out of communities. Just ask folk in Seacroft. So… Is there going to be a locally-based campaign (or summat) against further supermarket growth in LS11? Anyone interested in getting together for a cuppa to talk more?

  13. This is a really interesting debate.

    The loss of small independent shops has been going on since the 1950s. In terms of food shops it has happened because most people have welcomed supermarkets because they offer more convenience, more choice and cheaper prices than local shops. In terms of other types of shops these have been substantially reduced by the internet. For example there hasn’t been a specialist classical record shop in Leeds – despite its population of over 750,000 people since around 2000 because the owners could not make a profit and compete against the internet taking account of shop rentals etc. Small and independent shops can prosper in niche markets (e.g ethnic foods, antiquarian books etc etc) where either there is a strong local market or the specialism is strong enough to draw in customers from further afield. Unfortunately the main niche market locally is take-aways!

    The establishment of a large Ada or Tesco will not deprive us of some other use of the relevant sites because none is likely to occur in the short or medium term. It may increase traffic but some traffic will be reduced because of people who currnetly drive from Beeston to Morrisons at Hunslet or Morley or to Sainsbury at White Rose. I doubt if many people do their main shopping at the Co-op unless they have little choice because they don’t have access to a car.

    I know initially much was made of Tesco’s commitments to local employment opportunities at Seacroft and I don’t know whether, as Al says, they proved illusory. I felt that the Council blew its own trumpet on this rather than focussing on the hard work of making sure this happened in the short, medium and long term. The council has been poor at ensuring planning agreements are properly implemented.

    Supermarkets will supply all sorts of food if they think there is a demand and they can make a profit there is far more choice and a more interesting range of food at Sainsbury’s at Moor Allerton than at White Rose because of the nature and relative affluence of the customers.

    I am not sure why supermarketts lead to the hollowing out of communities, Ed. Can you explain what you mean?

    I have no doubt that if you asked most people living locally whether they would like a full size Asda or Tesco in Old Lane they would say yes but most of these people
    have other things to do with their lives than comment on websites etc!! I think councillors are more in touch with what most people want than officers are and the reasons used by officers to recommend refusal were not strong.

    I think what should be focussed on politically is trying to ensure improved regulation of large international companies which offer greater protection to suppliers and employees and ensure companies pay tax.

  14. If anyone has any comments (preferably objections given my opinion!!) could you do so on the planning application on the website as they are still accepting comments/objections from the public and all new comments will be looked at when they review the case (which is likely to be in the New Year now). We might as well add our comments to the actual case since they are still considering.
    I think it would be a good idea to get together because I think a group has more clout than the individual voice – given the 1,000 strong petition. At least they would see not every ordinary Beeston resident wants it.
    I know there are positive aspects to building a big new supermarket but it’s just short term gains in my opinion. I don’t have a car and I have a family to shop for on a small income. We are in the inner city 15 mins from town and buses to the White Rose &amp Morley. It’s not hard to do a reasonably priced shop. Indeed Mick Whites shop at Tommy Wass is cheaper for free range eggs, fruit and veg than the supermarkets! So small shops don’t have to be pricey! And lets not forget Leeds jewel in the crown – Kirkgate market is struggling. Hopefully they are going to have good ideas in promoting the market to the public more successfully. We won’t be doing Kirkgate Market any favours either by welcoming ASDA/TESCO!!

  15. I am against the building of another supermarket on Old Lane. To me , it doesn’t make sense to build another one when we are already served by, Spar, ASDA, &amp the co-op, with Sainsbury’s not that far away. If you think of the road infrastructure that feeds the Tesco at Seacroft &amp ASDA at Morley, they are more robust and fit for purpose to serve these supermarkets, Old lane is not. We don’t need another supermarket. What we do need are local clothing shops for mums, the charity shops at the co-op are a hive of activity . And what about poor Holbeck? What are they getting, another continental supermaket. I think Beeston as a community needs to find something else to do other than shopping as a leisure activity. Build something that the community can properly share, so we can take our bored kids off the streets. I walk the school run up Old Lane every day. have lived in the area for 30 years, We don’t need another supermarket.

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