TESCO... "Ill conceived, poorly planned…it will have a shattering affect on Salford Shopping City…and a catastrophic affect on regeneration." Chris Beckerman, Salford Estates
This morning Salford City Council's planning committee approved plans for a giant Tesco superstore to be positioned across Pendleton Way, right opposite Salford Shopping City.
Market traders, members of the public and Salford Estates, which owns the Precinct, had objected to Tesco's plans mainly on the grounds that the store wouldn't be integrated with Salford Shopping City and will draw trade away from existing stores and market stalls.
Chris Beckerman, from Salford Estates, explained that while objectors support the concept of a food store on the proposed site, the sheer scale of the Tesco "monster" store – three and a half times bigger than Morrisons in Eccles – and a "complete lack of integration" with Salford Shopping City would be a "significant threat to local jobs".
He estimated 40% job losses at the Precinct, or 330 people who could be made redundant, as Tesco's "unfair domination" would have a "shattering effect on Salford Shopping City", leading to closure of existing shops and market stalls.
The alternative vision put forward by Salford Estates included closing off the Pendleton Way four lane road that divides the Tesco site and the Precinct to allow more links between them, and a food store of an appropriate size as not to destroy existing trade in Pendleton (see here for further details).
Beckerman said that Salford Estates' approach to meet both Salford Council and Tesco to reach a compromise had not been reciprocated. He urged planning committee members to defer Tesco's "ill conceived, poorly planned" application.
His words were underlined by Joe Harrison, Chief Executive of the Market Traders Federation who said that the application was "detrimental to market traders". He urged the planning panel to "tell the applicants to go away and come back with something for market traders, Salford Shopping City and the people of Salford". (see here for further details)
Labour Councillor Peter Connor, who doesn't sit on the planning committee, stood up and said that while he welcomed Tesco's investment in employment and training, in the "interest of fairness" Salford people should be given "a proper choice", as the new owners of Salford Shopping City also wished to invest "in a centre that's integrated". He urged that the decision should be deferred while talks between the parties took place.
Meanwhile, Mr Joy and Mr Shepherd, pointed out the lack of facilities for the disabled, with no ranks for wheelchair friendly black cabs proposed on the Tesco site.
Tesco's Corporate Affairs Manager pointed to the green credentials of the superstore and how the company would recruit and train 300 long term local unemployed people which would "improve the economic wealth of the area". He argued that the store was linked to the Precinct via "super crossings" on Pendleton Way and added that between 15-20,000 more shoppers would come into Pendleton, creating an "extra footfall" that would help the Precinct's trade.
The planning committee then had a discussion - about the Tesco roof, car parking, taxi ranks, delivery times and the closure of Pendleton Way, before voting in favour of the application, with added conditions on disabled drop off points, roof materials, the management of the car park and store delivery times. Only one councillor abstained and none voted against.
After the meeting Chris Beckerman, from Salford Estates, was quietly furious…
"We're extremely disappointed" he said "The level of objections – an 8000 signature petition – plus overwhelming support for our own masterplan has all been ignored.
"I'm upset for the locals that they won't get an integrated shopping offer with Tesco and the Shopping City, they won't get the new public squares and they won't get all of the new retail in the manner we showed on our masterplan" he added "This will inevitably lead to job losses. And that's very upsetting.
"But this is just one battle and the war is continuing – we will ensure that we do everything at our disposal to force the parties to come together to close Pendleton Way, to integrate the store, to reduce it in size and to provide what people in Salford should have – a considered regeneration project.
In a guarded but scathing conclusion on Salford Council and its planning panel he concluded…
"I think that the level of opposition and our masterplan, and the manner in which we were looking to deliver our vision spoke for itself - and that the panel was directed very carefully to approve. It's been very clear from the outset that the Council were very keen to have Tesco come what may."
See also: Inside the Tesco planning meeting... Fiddlers on the Roof
See The History of Salford Precinct here...