After months of consultation and debate, Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee is due to make a decision on Tesco’s application to build Barnoldswick’s first superstore.
A special meeting will be held on Monday at Rolls-Royce Leisure, and planning officers have recommended the application for the scheme off Skipton Road be approved.
Supporters of the proposals have welcomed the recommendation, saying they are glad to be one step closer to superstore shopping on their doorstep. More than 900 residents’ letters backing the plan were delivered to Pendle Council by Tesco.
Sarah Riley, who set up a “Say Yes to Barnoldswick Tesco” Facebook page with nearly 200 followers, said: “I’m really pleased that so many people came out in support of Tesco’s plans. It shows that the people of Barnoldswick are right behind the plans.
“I’ve spoken to so many people who say that they want a new supermarket closer to home, and I’m glad we’ve had the chance to get our message across.”
Another resident who has campaigned for Tesco, Marc Jackson said: “It shows how many people want a place in the town where they can do their supermarket shopping.
“So many people have to get in the car or on a bus and go outside of Barnoldswick to do their weekly food shopping.
“A new supermarket would help keep more people in the town which should be great news for other retailers.”
But the recommendation has come as a blow for residents and traders in the town who want to see the plans quashed.
Nick Tofalos, a member of the group Towns Independents and Community (TIC), which was set up to oppose the development, said: “Members of the TIC were all disappointed to learn that the planners feel a store with as much retail space as the rest of the whole town put together is appropriate.
“I would ask the whole town to show up on Monday night and make the councillors who represent us, look us in the eye when they make their decision.
“It is shown and proven that supermarkets can have a very negative effect on small towns and communities and we should protect our town.
“It seems like there is an unseemly haste to put this through. The planning report doesn’t consider any other options, when we know there is another application for an Aldi store.
“There are four possible outcomes – we get Aldi, we get Tesco, we get both or we get neither. Surely it is necessary for all of the options on the table to be considered together.”
A former Pendle councillor and member of the Pendle-wide Development and Planning Committee in the 1980s, Mike Warner agreed that a decision should be made on the separate Tesco and Aldi applications at the same time.
He said: “Those who have supported the Tesco application have, I believe, done so primarily on the price of the weekly shop. In these desperate financial times, which are hitting those with families and low incomes the hardest, I have every sympathy. Aldi is cheaper than Tesco and would therefore be a better option.
“I believe that to grant permission to Tesco without first giving Aldi an equal chance would be unfair, and I urge councillors to make the right choice and defer the decision on Tesco until they have an officer’s report on Aldi. This would not take long as most of the background research has already been done for the Tesco application.
“Whatever happens, let’s still try to support all our local traders in the difficult times ahead.”
In his report to the West Craven Committee, Pendle Council’s Development Manager Kieran Howarth said the Tesco plan was a big issue for the town and that 1,468 comments had been received; 567 objecting to the plans and 901 supporting the proposed development.
Dozens of issues were raised by residents and traders on both side of the argument. They cited the effect on the town centre, preserving the unique character of Barnoldswick and traffic problems, and conversely the amount of money that is currently spent at large stores outside West Craven, the impact on local employment and the offer of more choice and convenience.
Mr Howarth said: “The proposed development is significant for the town of Barnoldswick and the wider West Craven area. There is understandable concern about the potential impact on the viability and vitality of Barnoldswick town centre.
“The applicant has provided an evidenced argument that the proposal would address a qualitative deficiency in convenience provision within Barnoldswick and West Craven. The proposed store would enable this deficiency to be met locally without the need to travel out of the area.”
Mr Howarth also said that he did not believe there would be an adverse impact on the town centre, that the store would bring substantial benefits to the local economy and it would not negatively impact residential amenity.
He added discussions were ongoing but that contributions totalling £392,000 from the applicant were on the table to mitigate the impact of the development, including specific schemes to improve and market the town centre, and make sure there the roads around the site could handle the extra traffic.
Matthew Magee, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, said: “The recommendation from the council’s planning officers is great news for all the Barnoldswick residents who have been telling us they want a place close to home to do their weekly food shopping.
“We’ve had a lot of support throughout our application, and believe it will bring a number of benefits to the town. We’re now looking forward to a final decision on our plans.”
The meeting at Rolls-Royce Leisure starts at 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to speak must make a request to committee clerk Joanne Eccles by noon on Monday, by calling 661654.