Protesters strike at Tesco plans

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Having just pulled out of one warehouse scheme owing to planning controversy, it looks like Tesco has ploughed straight into another.

Tesco was thought to have been finalising negotiations to take a 750,000 sq ft warehouse at Astral’s (now ProLogis) and PRUPIM’s (Prudential Property Investment Managers ) Hartland Park scheme in Farnborough.

However, vociferous campaigning by neighbours – some 700 wrote to the council to object – has seen the original plans by the developers for 1.5 million sq ft of warehouse scaled down. However, the fight goes on.

On the back of the bad publicity generated, Tesco seems to have withdrawn and is now in negotiations with Rosemound to develop a new RDC on the former Andover Airfield.

Initial discussions with Test Valley Borough Council revealed that the development could bring as many as 1,200 jobs to the area. However as soon as the proposals were revealed there was an action group set up to oppose it.

The concerns range from poor access and fear of increased traffic to the quality of jobs on offer.

In a statement, the developer told the local press that it was working closely with the Highways Agency, Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council to ensure the access to the site from the A303 is improved in an appropriate manner.

“The company is also developing detailed traffic management proposals to ensure HGV movements would not affect the residents of Monxton and the other nearby villages.”

There has already been a protest rally with some 100 people turning up organised by local Monxton councillor Katrina Saville.

Comments from locals about the development make very uncomfortable reading and not just for Tesco. One said that the development “will just bring more low-grade jobs of the sort we don’t need. We need development that will raise Andover’s low average wage levels, not depress them further.”

Another said: “Many are right to be concerned as the nature of distribution centres encourages low-paid/part-time/shift type jobs, which may bring little benefit to the local employment picture.”

As no application has been formally put forward, neither Tesco nor Rosemound were in a position to respond.

l Work has started on Tesco’s £65m regional distribution centre at the 310-acre Centreport site by the M62 on the outskirts of Goole.

This follows the successful planning application by developer Sterling St James for a high-specification 850,000 sq ft distribution depot.

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