TOWN centre business leaders today launched a stinging attack on plans for a new Tesco superstore in Huddersfield.
In a letter to Kirklees Council leaders, they claim the proposal to build a new Tesco store will have a “devastating” effect on town centre traders.
They have also criticised its location at the junction of Leeds Road and the ring road at Southgate. They have queried the cost of the scheme and expressed concerns at the loss of car parking which would result from related proposals to build a new sports centre at Springwood.
The letter from the Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership - headed by chairman John Eastwood - to council leader Clr Robert Light and Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Ken Simms follows comments from Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman criticising the Tesco plan.
The proposals would involve the existing Tesco store at Viaduct Street being flattened, allowing the retailer to use the land for housing, offices, shops and a hotel.
Tesco would build a new store on the site of Huddersfield Sports Centre and neighbouring Ibbotson Flats and a new sports centre would be built on the site of the Springwood car park.
But Mr Sheerman believes the proposed new supermarket would be an eyesore, cause traffic problems and hurt town centre traders.
Mr Eastwood said: “We agree with Mr Sheerman and have other concerns which he has not raised, possibly because central Government is part of the problem.”
Mr Eastwood claimed: “The proposed large increase in non-food retail space will have a devastating effect on the shopping facilities within the ring road, including developments being actively promoted by the council.
“The development is absolutely in the worst possible place for traffic as Southgate is already the ring road’s bottleneck. The economies of both the town centre and the surrounding areas require traffic to flow round the ring road as freely as possible.”
Mr Eastwood said the council had “no meaningful plan” to replace the 305 long-stay car parking spaces that would be lost at Springwood.
He said: “These spaces are used by people who work in the town centre and their loss will result in a serious drain of business activity away from the town as well as penalising the most vulnerable, such as working mothers who need to travel to work by car.”
Mr Eastwood said Tesco’s retaining ownership of their current site as well as gaining a new store would give the supermarket firm “inordinate control” over the town’s future development.
And he questioned whether Kirklees Council had negotiated the best price for the land to be developed by Tesco. Mr Eastwood said indicative costs for the new sports centre also appeared expensive compared with similar schemes across the country.