Store Wars latest: Tesco claims big community support for Beeston plans

Tesco Old Lane Beeston plans support
Tesco supporters: Terry Rowe (St Anthony’s), Deborah Hayeems (Tesco), Habib Khan (Hamara) and Michael Thompson and Michael Hogan (both St Anthony’s)

As reported last week on South Leeds Life, supermarket giants Asda and Tesco are set to go head to head at a planning meeting this Thursday. Asda wants to extend its current store on Old Lane, while Tesco wants to build a new store near the site.

Leeds City Council planning officers, however, are recommending that both proposals are REFUSED, mainly because of the impact the developments could have on neighbouring Dewsbury Road. 

The recommendations apparently provoked much consternation from disappointed residents attending last Thursday’s Beeston Community Forum meeting.

The campaigns from both Asda and Tesco have involved a substantial PR campaign from both of the store giants’ PR departments. Barely had the council’s report been released when the Tesco PR machine rolled into action. Below, printed in full is their press release. Here at South Leeds Life we’re completely neutral on the subject, but thought we’d post the press release for your information:

Tesco is set to find out [this] week whether it will be able to go ahead with plans to build a new supermarket on the derelict site of the former Moorhouses jam factory on Old Lane in Beeston.

As well as the new supermarket, the proposals include a new traffic light crossing over Old Lane, a unique pedestrian entrance and clock tower, and the plans will finally regenerate the land which has stood derelict for over 10 years.  Tesco’s planning application was submitted in September 2010 and over 500 letters of support from local residents have been submitted to Leeds City Council.

Two local community groups are backing Tesco’s planning application with both set to benefit if Tesco is able to build its new store.  However the plans are under threat by a recommendation for refusal from Leeds City Council planners who would prefer to see a supermarket built nearly two kilometres away on Dewsbury Road.

As part of the proposals, Tesco has agreed to fund improvements at St Anthony’s Football Club, which is next to the site on Old Lane.  If the plans get the go-ahead, Tesco will also run a work experience programme with the Hamara Centre on Tempest Road, helping young people with learning difficulties.

Terry Rowe, Chairman of St Anthony’s FC, said:  “For over a decade we have been next to a derelict site – with all the problems that this brings.  We’ve finally got an opportunity to see it brought back to life and we hope Leeds Council takes this opportunity to give Tesco the go-ahead.  We’ve had a number of meetings with Tesco already and as part of their plans they’ve agreed to support us, including new fencing for our main pitch if their application is approved.”

Habib Khan, Business Development Manager at Hamara, said:  “We’re supporting Tesco’s plans because this is a rare opportunity to get this site sorted out, and give residents in Beeston some real choice of where they can get their weekly food shopping.  It is also fantastic that Tesco will be supporting us in our work with young people in the community through the new store.  We are always looking to build relationships with local businesses and if these plans are approved we hope to form a long-term and successful partnership with Tesco.”

Deborah Hayeems, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, said:  “Over the last two years our Beeston scheme has been developed with the input of the local community – we’ve improved the design, made commitments to recruit locally, included a pedestrian crossing and entrance, and have set aside funding for road improvements.

“We have built some great relationships with the local community that we want to continue through this new store.  This is a fantastic opportunity to regenerate a derelict site, bring genuine shopping choice to local residents and create 140 jobs for people in the area.  We hope Leeds City Council will give us the approval we need to get on site and build our new Beeston store.”

South Leeds Life will be reporting from Thursday afternoon’s South and West Plans Panel meeting at the Civic Hall.  The meeting starts at 1.30pm and members of the public can attend to hear the councillors debate, but cannot speak. The full reports and details on the meeting can be found here.