A crucial planning decision which will shape the retail landscape in Harborough for the foreseeable future is set to be made next week.
After eight months of fierce debate, councillors will meet at 6.30pm on Tuesday to rule on Tesco’s plan to build a new supermarket at the former Focus site in Rockingham Road.
The Harborough District Council planning committee meeting is open to the public and is being moved to a larger venue to accommodate the expected large turnout.
A council spokesman said: “It is being held at Harborough’s Three Swans Hotel, in the big conference room to allow for numbers.”
Tesco was given a major boost this week with the publication of the agenda ahead of the meeting.
In their report, council planning officers have recommended the plan be approved.
The report states: “The development is not considered to result in significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Harborough town centre and will provide employment opportunities.
“It will result in the enhancement of a brownfield site and will not have an adverse effect on the amenity of nearby residents.”
The council’s retail advisor NLP also concludes in the report that it will not cause “serious harm”.
However, several of the town’s big retail players last week combined their efforts to raise concerns over the town centre’s future if it goes ahead including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-op and the owners of St Mary’s Place shopping centre, Deutsche Alternative Asset Management.
One of the signatories is Jim Kelly, of Rockridge Properties which owns sites in St Mary’s Road. He told the Mail: “This is a serious threat to the vitality of the town centre and must be stopped.”
Market Harborough Civic Society, ward councillors, more than 90 residents and small businesses and Harborough Disabled Action Group have also wrote to the council to raise concerns and 26 residents in Thatch Meadow Drive signed a petition against it.
A total of 72 people wrote to back Tesco and 373 signed a Tesco-led petition.
Tesco’s corporate affairs spokesman Simon Petar told the Mail: “It is very encouraging that the council’s planning officers recommend our application for approval.
“This would be a significant and multi-million pound investment for Harborough, creating 200 jobs for local people and bringing alive a site that hasn’t been used for a number of years.
“We have received widespread support for our plans from the community and we look forward to the committee meeting on May 20.”
The agenda for the meeting can be seen online at www.harborough.gov.uk and clicking on the “council and democracy” heading.
Alternatively, visit the reception area of The Symington Building in Adam and Eve Street, Harborough, and ask to see a paper copy.