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Tesco Chiefs Agree To look At Store Changes

By Jo Deeks on Thursday, 9th November 2006.

Representatives from supermarket giant Tesco visited Haverhill last Friday and agreed to consider concerns about their proposed store.

Residents and traders had expressed fears about the access road to the new supermarket and the proportion of non-food goods to be sold there.

MP Richard Spring arranged the meeting between Tesco, Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and other interested parties, after raising local concerns with Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco.

After the meeting Mr Spring said he hoped Tesco would see that the concerns raised were based on sound, arguments and be willing to modify their plans.

"I am delighted that Tesco has reached agreement to build a store next to the town centre, and feel confident that it will be a great success," he said.

"The difficulty is that, as things stand, the store will be devoting some 20 per cent of its floor space to non-food items, including electrical goods and clothing.

"The smaller retailers in the town centre, who very much welcome Tesco's arrival, are concerned about the impact that this range of goods will have on the sustainability and profitability of the town centre - which very much needs greater retail diversity.

"I hope that we can find a constructive way forward to resolve these matters."

Members of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce presented an alternative access plan for a road behind the proposed store at the former Station Yard site.

Although their plan could be up to 1 million more expensive than Tesco's plan, it would mean people would not have to push pushchairs up a slope to get to the store.

Mike Dawson, St Edmundsbury Borough Council's chief officer for Haverhill, said it was a constructive meeting.

The council has commissioned a new study into the need for retail floorspace in Haverhill, after a planning inspector ruled figures used to consider the Tesco plan were out of date.

The results are expected before Christmas and will affect whether planning consent can be given to the store.

Mike Dawson, St Edmundsbury Borough Council's chief officer for Haverhill, said it was a constructive meeting.

Mr Dawson said: "Tesco have come and listened to the views from the town, but people should not automatically assume that changes will be made. There are a lot of difficulties to be overcome and a lot of work to be done on this."

Michael Kissman, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: "We appreciate Richard Spring's efforts in co-ordinating the meeting which gave us an opportunity to get feedback directly from local people.

"The meeting was constructive and all those present agreed they wanted to ensure the future vitality of the town centre.

"Not all the issues raised are directly within Tesco's control to solve, but we are taking this seriously and will work hard to get the best solution for Haverhill where we can."

Haverhill Weekly News

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