Application for Judicial Review from Derwent Holdings (owners of White City) rejected
Tesco gets the go ahead from the High Court. We’re still awaiting the details of the ruling but it seems clear that the controversial super sized Tesco Megastore planned for Gorse Hill is going ahead. All the press attention and there’s plenty of interest in the story, is focused on the Lancashire Cricket Club development partnered with the store. However, the bottom line is that we’re getting a store twice the size of one previously rejected as too big for the area and damaging to our town centre. The fact the decision to reject this earlier smaller store was endorsed both by the Planning Inspectorate and an earlier High Court ruling makes it harder to understand how the position has changed.
We know what changed Trafford Council’s mind and that was the Cricket Ground development being part-financed by Tesco; the Council has been upfront about it. But given that it’s well established in planning terms that the Tesco is too big and not acceptable on it’s own merit, should the £21m going to the Cricket Club make a difference? How can we make a moral case that the planning process is an objective examination of the impact on the community, the roads and the town centre when all it takes to shift those criteria is wads of cash going to a preferred beneficiary?
I see Jonathan Schofield editor of Manchester confidential welcomes the decision, arguing that:
As we’ve said previously: Will a successful destination supermarket and a revitalised cricket ground be better long-term for Stretford, Gorse Hill and Old Trafford, than the crumbling edifices of the Stretford Mall and the present LCCC? Would they increase prestige, boost image and bring in more jobs? What’s the big picture in an age where we’ve, as a country, already allowed scores of ridiculously sized stores from various companies, not just Tesco, to be built all over the place?
At Confidential the answer is obvious. Build the store, improve LCCC, give the residents the excitement change brings whilst ensuring the city region maintains all its international sporting choices.”
Jonathan is entitled to that view but he misses the point that it was already determined six years ago that a smaller Tesco was not appropriate to that particular site. He may disagree with that view, but it was endorsed through three tiers of the planning process. The High Court has simply ruled that planning gain (wads of dosh) can reverse all planning determinsations however objective. And I am not sure that leaves us in a good place. I hold no torch for Derwent and I’m not clear that White City provides a benign alternative location for a superstore, but I do worry that once again ordinary folk have been ignored.
We’re going to get a massive Tesco opposite PC World. As councillors we’re obviously going to have to work with the company to ensure Chester Road is not brought to a standstill and the neighbourhood is not grid-locked in. And we’ll be looking to ensure that promises are kept as far as local employment is concerned. At the end of the day, we want it to be a success. It can’t be in Tesco’s interest to sieze-up the area, but the sheer scale of it leaves you wondering how the road network can deliver sufficient customers, when it’s already congested – exactly the points that led to its rejection in the first place. If Jonathan Schofield has any solution to this, I’d welcome his input.