The issue that members of Harborough District Council’s planning committee will have to wrestle with when they come to discuss Tesco’s plans for a big new store is whether such a development will drive trade away from the town centre.
There has been much debate about the future of town centres, and not just in these parts.
On the face if it, Market Harborough is doing better than most with a nice mix of independent specialist stores, places to eat and drink and national chains.
One of Harborough’s charms is that it does not have an identikit High Street that could be found anywhere in the country.
Yet, to date, there has never been a significant out-of-town shopping alternative and competition, which is what Tesco would undoubtedly offer.
Those shoppping in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Lidl and Aldi more often than not will also take a short stroll through the town to support other local businesses.
Which brings us back to the question for the planners: Can they afford to back the Tesco scheme, which despite bringing a significant 200-job boost, could also take shoppers away from the town centre.
It is a conundrum for which there is no simple answer.
But should Tesco get the go-ahead for its new store it will mean that the town centre will need to ensure it offers what people want to thrive and survive.
Column by Neil Pickford.
Follow Neil on Twitter, @NeilPickfordHM.