Published: January 13, 2009
Burnham-On-Sea Tesco store given approval to expand

Controversial proposals to expand Burnham-On-Sea's Tesco supermarket were given the go-ahead by council planners on Tuesday (January 13th).

Members of Sedgemoor District Council's Development Control Committee decided to approve the plans to add an extra 1,200 square metres of shopping space and double the number of parking spaces at the store in Ben Traver's Way, pictured above.

Burnham-On-Sea.com exclusively reported last week how the application has prompted fears among businesses in Burnham town centre that plans for a new shuttle bus service to take shoppers to the store may 'suck trade out of the town' and even threaten the future of Somerfield on the seafront.

This was discussed at Tuesday's meeting, and the plans for a shuttle bus service have now been put on hold with the £100,000 of funding that was earmarked towards it being directed towards the regeneration of Burnham town centre instead.

Chamber of Trade Chairman Alex Turco aired his concerns about the bus service during Tuesday's meeting, in addition to local district councillors Councillor Neville Jones and Councillor Danny Titcombe.

Cllr Neville Jones described the expansion of the store "a blow to Burnham" that would be "detrimental to the vitality and viability of the town centre."

He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "Given the financial climate, this is no time to embrace a scheme that might suck trade out of the town centre."

"Recent studies have shown the expansion of Sanders Garden World could hurt the town centre by £400,000 a year, while the Tesco expansion could hit trade at Somerfield on the seafront by £530,000 per year. At the same time, town centre businesses will lose £275,000 of trade, so the overall picture is bleak."

"Given that business rates are also due to rise by 30 per cent next year, there could be difficult times ahead."

"Tesco's plans for a bus service would have hovered up any trade that was remaining, so to see the £100,000 of funding which was earmarked towards this service being redirected into regeneration is a small crumb of consolation."

Cllr Bob Filmer, who chaired Tuesday's meeting, added: "We had a long debate in which many concerns were aired. However, as this application from Tesco is smaller, and the building would be far more in keeping with the surrounding area than previous planning applications, there was more support for it. The amount and type of goods that can be sold in the store has also been restricted."

"Many councillors agreed, however, that the bus service would have taken people from the town to Tesco, rather than be a service for the benefit of the town, and this was why the money earmarked for it will be directed towards regeneration instead."

RELATED LINKS:

Town council approves expansion proposals
Tesco defends expansion at Burnham traders meeting
Survey finds 86% of Burnham residents back Tesco expansion
Tesco plans to build 17 new homes next to expanded store
More details emerge over Tesco expansion plans
Tesco to unveil expansion plans for Burnham store

 




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