Tesco decision creating a stir

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It’s a convention for newly elected councillors to thank voters in Your Say.

I haven’t so far read of a councillor saying “I did speak for you, as you asked”.

This is what I must say to the several hundreds of Desborough residents who asked me to speak for them against the Tesco application and for the Sainsbury’s and its petrol station at the planning committee on the 25th.

There were interesting and well- informed other speeches on your behalf; Jonathan Chastney of CJC on the proposed mixed-use plan for the Lawrence site, a heritage expert, Paula Holmes (Sec DCDT), Roger Green (civic society), Teresa Bullock, Stacey Bowthorpe and Cllr June Derbyshire.

With actual use of the KBC report, I was able to compare the two applications before the committee. A well-finished application by Sainsbury’s with no adverse impact in its traffic levels and congestion, its buildings, materials, designs and landscape scheme described as “good”, its energy-efficiency devices as “innovative”, “very good” and able to be “an exemplar of sustainable construction in N Northants”.

Sainsbury’s had useful offerings for Desborough such as extra buses and a crossing between the surgery and library.

A Tesco building with structures, materials and layout close to unacceptable (“could be better”) creating “detrimental” “key views” around it and showing a flimsy concern for renewable energy. Tesco’s S106 provision was so scruffy that they have been given three months to improve it.

As if Desborough is a large town, and 750m a great distance, Sainsbury’s site, providing space, design, a petrol station, with no prospective trouble and the promise of completion by summer 2013 (200 jobs) was said to fail in planning terms because “out of centre”!

Yet Tesco (140 jobs) slightly smaller, which is being shoe-horned with difficulty onto the Lawrence site, creating dangers for pedestrians and traffic on-site and off-site, awkward routes to other shops, pollution from cars, light and noise for the 100 or so people living closely around it, a prison wall for New Street and no petrol station, will bring “substantial public benefit!”

Tesco is faced with a possible three- year delay removing a covenant forbidding a food superstore (if it can be removed), together with the wrath of Desborians who want to keep their historic buildings and favour a Lawrence site development of distinct character which will enlarge and invigorate their town rather than kill it.

At the meeting, Tesco threatened the committee that if it accepted Sainsbury’s it would not build! Great commitment to Desborough’s “public benefit”!

But not even then was a question raised as to what was the motive for Tesco’s planning application. Over to you all…

Cllr Belinda Humfrey

Harborough Road