New-look Tesco a threat to centre'

PUBLISHED: 13:06 11 August 2006 | UPDATED: 19:47 01 June 2010

PLANS to extend the Tesco store on the outskirts of Wisbech could be the final nail in the coffin for town centre shops struggling to stay in business. Wisbech Chamber of Commerce president Ray Johnson says many small businesses are existing on the breadl

PLANS to extend the Tesco store on the outskirts of Wisbech could be the final nail in the coffin for town centre shops struggling to stay in business.

Wisbech Chamber of Commerce president Ray Johnson says many small businesses are existing on the breadline.

Tesco wants to add 2,381 metres of floor space to its Sandown Road store, relocate the existing petrol station and car wash, and alter the junction of Cromwell/Sandown Road with a new roundabout.

Wisbech Town Council has also voiced its opposition to the plans, which will go before Fenland District Council's planning committee on Wednesday. Fenland planning officers are recommending the scheme be approved.

Mr Johnson said: "You have only got to look at the town centre to see what kind of long-term effect these stores have had. The harm has already been done but more shops on the breadline will disappear and there are quite a few of those.

"They have even killed off the back to school trade in the town - and that is just one example."

Town councillors say they believe giving the plan the go-ahead would impact further on the town centre. But if the plan is approved they want Section 106 money to be used for regeneration of the town centre.

In a report going before Wednesday's meeting, planners say any impact on the town centre is likely to be short-term and within acceptable limits. They add the site is within an area of established commercial use and on a key route into the town.

While officers think parking provision is acceptable, contributions towards an upgraded bus route will be vital. The proposed landscaping scheme is considered unacceptable and officers say a suitable scheme must be agreed before the meeting.

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