May 25 2010 By Siba Matti
PLANS to build a Tesco Express in Mill End are set to be approved on Thursday despite opposition from more than 1,000 residents.
The supermarket giant has proposed to build a convenience store, together with four two-bedroom flats, on the site of the former Happy Man Pub in Berry Lane, after two larger applications were abandoned.
If the controversial plans are approved, Tesco could be forced to foot the bill for pothole repairs in nearby Tudor Parade and contribute towards the cost of traffic wardens, as part of a series of conditions.
But shopkeepers and residents say Tesco has continually failed to address concerns including long-term parking problems and loss of trade for neighbouring businesses, which could turn Tudor Parade into a 'ghost town'.
During a consultation held by Three Rivers District Council (TRDC), 440 letters of objection, plus three petitions with a collective 852 signatures, were submitted against the development.
Speaking on behalf of the Tudor Parade Traders Association, Paresh Patel, owner of A-Z Convenience Store, called on councillors to reject the application at a TRDC development control meeting tomorrow (27) evening.
“A lot of things have not been taken on board in the report – there will still be major parking problems and issues with exiting the car park when it is full,” he said.
“Staff are likely to park on site, resulting in little or no space for customers, who will be forced to use side roads, having a knock-on effect on residential parking.
“And of course, the economic viability of local traders is a concern.”
Mr Patel also admitted fears that TRDC's 'lack of resources' could leave them powerless to fight against 'the muscle of Tesco', should the matter be taken to appeal.
“A similar plan in Croxley Green was approved after an appeal in October last year, so I think the council might feel under pressure to approve the plans rather than face another appeal, which will probably be in favour of Tesco,” he said.
“Only recently Costcutter in Ruislip closed because of competition from a new Tesco Express, and two large stores shut down in Ruislip Manor for the same reason. We are worried the same thing will happen here.
“The remedies that Tesco has offered, including paying for a parking scheme, are not going to work long-term – the plans are simply unsustainable.”
A handful of residents in favour of the application say the site has become an eyesore which lowers the tone of the neighbourhood.
An independent report commissioned by TRDC found a Tesco Express store would be 'entirely appropriate' for the location.
Spokesperson for Tesco, Carol Leslie, said the company always follows planning procedure and where possible, looks to address residents' concerns.
She added: “Experience has shown us that our Express stores can actually complement existing traders by acting as an anchor and keeping people shopping in the area, instead of driving to other areas.”
For news of the decision as soon as we get it, visit www.uxbridgegazette.co.uk from Friday.