Tesco has confirmed it will not build a new store in Huddersfield town centre.

The retail giant says Huddersfield is one of 49 new stores that have now been canned.

However, the sale to Tesco of the Kirklees Council-owned Southgate land earmarked for the new store is legally binding.

Cash from the sale is funding work on Huddersfield’s new £36m leisure centre at Springwood, due to open this summer.

It will now be up to Tesco to decide how to use the land, but Kirklees Council remains keen to work with the retailer due to the importance of the town centre gateway site.

Tesco chief Dave Lewis confirmed the news, saying: “There are some things that we’d planned to do which are no longer viable.”

He added: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that we are unable to proceed with 49 planned new store developments across the UK, including our planned store in Huddersfield.

“Our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and my absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the circa 300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK.

“I know that this news will be a real disappointment to many people in the local community and we’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received for our plans.

“I am very aware of the importance of the site to the area and I am determined that we will work closely with Kirklees Council to find the right solution for the local community.”

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What should be built instead of a Tesco store?
What should be built instead of a Tesco store?

Tesco agreed to buy the land at Southgate, on Huddersfield’s ring road, in a deal that would provide Kirklees Council with cash to build a new sports centre. Details of the financial arrangements have never been made public.

Kirklees says the land sale is not at risk by today’s announcement due to the legal agreement.

However, the future of the Southgate site is now unclear.

After a lengthy planning battle, Tesco was given planning permission to build a supermarket on the site after approval by the Planning Inspectorate.

Tesco is also closing 43 unprofitable stores. Again no locations were given, but Mr Lewis revealed that a “significant proportion” would be Tesco Express convenience shops.

Tesco head office jobs will also see cuts as overheads are slashed by 30%, with the Cheshunt head office also to close.