CAMPAIGNERS have come up with a new plan to keep Tesco in Huddersfield town centre.
The retail giant wants to demolish its store in Viaduct Street and build a new supermarket at Southgate outside the ring road.
The proposal includes demolishing Huddersfield Sports Centre, the Ibbotson and Lonsbrough flats, a computer centre and a car park.
Tesco would use the Viaduct Street site for housing, offices, shops and a hotel. The plans would also see a new sports centre on the site of the Springwood Car Park.
Town First, a coalition including small businesses and residents, was formed last year to oppose the plan. The group fears the proposal would lead to fewer people visiting the town centre.
And this week Town First has come up with its own plan. The group has proposed that Tesco stays at Viaduct Street and expands on to the site of the Brook Street car park.
Chairman Tony Coletta, who owns Occasions on Market Avenue, said: “We are concerned about the pressure on independent retailers during the recession. There are an increasing number of empty shops in the town centre. We believe future development should take place within the town centre to ensure its viability.”
Town First believes an expanded Tesco would benefit the nearby Open Market.
Secretary Chas Ball said: “Markets have an important role to play in providing affordable, local food to shoppers. We think the Open Market and Queensgate Market are important assets. By preserving them we are better prepared to meet our future needs in a low-carbon economy.”
Town First has presented its detailed proposal to Kirklees Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan and deputy leader Clr Kath Pinnock.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who helped set up the group, gave the plan a guarded welcome yesterday. He said: “I’m not against Tesco expanding on the Viaduct Street site, I’m against them moving to Southgate and taking up to 60,000 customers a week out of the town centre.”
Mr Sheerman also launched a scathing attack on Tesco in the House of Commons yesterday.
The Labour MP said: “Many of our towns and cities are being totally blighted by this manipulative monopoly.
“Isn’t it about time we debated Tesco in this House and introduced legislation to cut its monopoly?”
But Tesco denied that it was a monopoly. Spokesman Michael Kissman said: “The market is extremely competitive. Retailers compete every day for customers and this fierce competition has brought about numerous benefits for customers such as low prices, better quality and information and a wider range of products. As a result, levels of customer satisfaction are high.
“For example, Huddersfield supports a wide selection of stores and has a competitive retail environment. Customers are able to choose between a diverse range of retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Iceland, Co-op and numerous other independent stores and markets.”