Tesco Planning verdict

Application for Judicial Review from Derwent Holdings (owners of White City) rejected

Tesco gets the go ahead from the High Court. We’re still awaiting the details of the ruling but it seems clear that the controversial super sized Tesco Megastore planned for Gorse Hill is going ahead. All the press attention and there’s plenty of interest in the story, is focused on the Lancashire Cricket Club development partnered with the store. However, the bottom line is that we’re getting a store twice the size of one previously rejected as too big for the area and damaging to our town centre. The fact the decision to reject this earlier smaller store was endorsed both by the Planning Inspectorate and an earlier High Court ruling makes it harder to understand how the position has changed.

We know what changed Trafford Council’s mind and that was the Cricket Ground development being part-financed by Tesco; the Council has been upfront about it. But given that it’s well established in planning terms that the Tesco is too big and not acceptable on it’s own merit, should the £21m going to the Cricket Club make a difference? How can we make a moral case that the planning process is an objective examination of the impact on the community, the roads and the town centre when all it takes to shift those criteria is wads of cash going to a preferred beneficiary?

I see Jonathan Schofield editor of Manchester confidential welcomes the decision, arguing that:

As we’ve said previously: Will a successful destination supermarket and a revitalised cricket ground be better long-term for Stretford, Gorse Hill and Old Trafford, than the crumbling edifices of the Stretford Mall and the present LCCC? Would they increase prestige, boost image and bring in more jobs? What’s the big picture in an age where we’ve, as a country, already allowed scores of ridiculously sized stores from various companies, not just Tesco, to be built all over the place?

At Confidential the answer is obvious. Build the store, improve LCCC, give the residents the excitement change brings whilst ensuring the city region maintains all its international sporting choices.”

Jonathan is entitled to that view but he misses the point that it was already determined six years ago that a smaller Tesco was not appropriate to that particular site. He may disagree with that view, but it was endorsed through three tiers of the planning process. The High Court has simply ruled that planning gain (wads of dosh) can reverse all planning determinsations however objective. And I am not sure that leaves us in a good place. I hold no torch for Derwent and I’m not clear that White City provides a benign alternative location for a superstore, but I do worry that once again ordinary folk have been ignored.

We’re going to get a massive Tesco opposite PC World. As councillors we’re obviously going to have to work with the company to ensure Chester Road is not brought to a standstill and the neighbourhood is not grid-locked in. And we’ll be looking to ensure that promises are kept as far as local employment is concerned. At the end of the day, we want it to be a success. It can’t be in Tesco’s interest to sieze-up the area, but the sheer scale of it leaves you wondering how the road network can deliver sufficient customers, when it’s already congested – exactly the points that led to its rejection in the first place. If Jonathan Schofield has any solution to this, I’d welcome his input.

Mike Cordingley







  1. DomT avatar

    As a Gorse Hill resident I wholeheartedly welcome the development. Although a huge Tesco isn’t ideal, it’s the best option on the table for the area and I believe it’ll have a huge positive impact. It can’t be denied that there’s going to be more traffic congestion, but as we already suffer with commuting and match day traffic that has no beneficial affect on the area, at least with the Tesco we’ll get some benefit of out it.

    Stretford Mall’s biggest problem isn’t the new Tesco, it’s the Trafford Centre and the continued lack of investment in the place. Do we realistically believe it’ll ever get the kind of investment that Altrincham and Urmston have had recently? The same is true of the shops at Gorse Hill. With the exception of the Co-op, it’s nothing but takeaways and rough pubs.

    The No Mega Tesco campaign’s agenda was all about Chorlton and nothing to do people living locally. The people of Chorlton should be more concerned about the two Tesco Express stores in the area that’ll have more of an impact on local shops than the new Tesco.

    Derwent Holding proposition of a Sainsburys at White City wouldn’t have had less of a damaging effect than the Tesco proposal will and it wouldn’t have the positive impact of the LCCC redevelopment.

    I’m disappointed that the local MP and councillors appear to spend more time opposing the development than actually listening to the people who elected them and dealing with their concerns. There are huge problems in Gorse Hill with crime, anti social behaviour, litter and mess everywhere and nothing’s being done about it. I’m afraid to let my son out round the streets because of all the dog mess and broken glass everywhere, it’s just dangerous and a health risk.

    1. MikeCordingley avatar

      I hear what you’re saying DomT. By all means contact me via email, or give me a call on 865 9228. I do get around the streets of Gorse Hill and I’ll be cycling through Nansen St / Top Field area tomorrow on the way to town. We have been active in trying to get the council to clean the area sufficiently and I believe we’ve made progress. In particular my colleague Councillor Walsh has been especially active in getting the area behind PC World cleared and landscaped. But we are prepared to listen.

      As for the Tesco, I’m well aware that there are residents who support the development. And no one can deny that it does have positive aspects. But it is just too big for that location. It’s bigger than their store in Altrincham and that creates problems in my view that means we should have been able to negotiate it down. But I know there was a body of opinion within Gorse Hill that wanted the store just as there were others against. All that is history now and we have to work to make the best of it.

I love hearing your views