A supermarket has been granted planning permission in the centre of a county town – but as it stands the store will not be able to sell food.
At a packed and emotional Kettering Council planning committee meeting tonight, councillors voted to approve a Tesco superstore at the former Lawrence Factory site in Desborough.
At the same meeting, councillors voted to throw out an application for a Sainsbury’s superstore at Magnetic Park, on land to the north of the town.
But question marks remain over how the Tesco supermarket will trade, with a covenant on the site preventing the sale of food, and the council has admitted it could take up to three years to remove it.
Louise Gosling, regional corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have our proposal accepted and this will bring people into Desborough, its High Street, and bring a buzz back to the place.
“We’ve been working on this for two years and a lot of people in the town had concerns about the effect of an out-of-town development could have on the town centre.
“We are confident that the covenant can be lifted quickly.”
The Tesco plan will create 140 jobs to the town as part of a 24,000 sq ft store.
Kettering council officers admitted the development would hinder the conservation area it is being built on, but the public benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
The Sainsbury’s plan for a 21,000 sq ft store which would have created up to 200 jobs was rejected.
Sainsbury’s regional development executive Robert Oxley said: “The council has missed a real opportunity for development in Desborough and to secure its long-term future.
“It’s disappointing for us but also for Desborough people as the council has put the Tesco application on ice because of the covenant.
“We will now consider our options before making the next step.”
A spokesman for the Midlands Co-operative Society last night confirmed it had no intention of removing the covenant.
Speaking at the meeting, Louise Holland, development officer for the council, said: “The covenant is not an insurmountable issue.
“We will first negotiate, and if necessary, use planning power.”