Fears for Axminster Co-op as Tesco expansion approved

Tesco store wins go ahead to nearly double in size despite protests

TESCO has been given the go ahead to almost double the size of its Axminster store – despite a warning it could kill off the local Co-op.

District council planners also dismissed neighbours’ fears over extra noise and traffic to approve the scheme this week.

But the management control committee did impose a long list of conditions to limit disruption to residents – and told the company it expected them to deal with any complaints quickly and sympathetically.

As part of the deal Tesco will also provide a �60,000 donation towards a new town bus service.

The expansion, which will mean some 40 extra jobs, involves demolishing two houses, building a second storey to the car park and a bridge, linking the supermarket with the town centre.

Opponents claim it will bring increased noise and disruption to the area – with more cars and extra delivery lorries.

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And a spokesman for the Co-op, who have just completed a major refurbishment of their supermarket in West Street, said it could spell the end for them.

He told the committee the new enlarged Tesco could reduce their turnover by a massive 35 per cent.

“It may have to close,” he warned. ”This would seriously undermine the vitality of the town centre”.

Shand Park resident Jeremy Walden said the extra traffic generated by the larger store would also bring the town centre to a halt.

He said: “With no north-south relief road and 400 plus new homes planned along the Chard Road what is already a difficult situation will be untenable.

“The extra traffic generated by a Tesco expansion will make the town centre like a motorised game of Tetrus – it will be in a permanent gridlock”.

Speaking for the town council Douglas Hull said they wanted assurances the opening times would be no longer than now and the town bus would serve the whole community – not just ferry people to Tesco.

Adam Hughes, for Tesco, said opening times would be the same as now and the bus route would be determined by the town council. He dismissed the Co-op claims and said customers would benefit from competition.

Committee member Geoff Franklin said: “You may or may not like the applicants but how many of us don’t shop there and this will mean 40 extra jobs.”