Tesco relaunches bid for Tolworth superstore
Campaigners who fought controversial plans for a Tesco store have a new fight on their hands, after the supermarket giant relaunched its bid.
Tesco withdrew its hugely unpopular application for a development in Tolworth in April last year after it faced huge opposition from residents and Surbiton and Kingston MP Edward Davey, who set up protest website everylittlehurts.co.uk.
The proposal for a supermarket, 562 homes and a community centre would have completely redesigned the A3 roundabout, and criticism hinged on the potential influx of traffic and the loss of land for affordable housing.
The store backed down just 24 hours before a public meeting where campaigners were gearing up for a final battle.
The new plans for the former MoD site are half the size and include space for a housing scheme of about 250 homes, a new supermarket, gym and hotel.
However, Mr Davey, who is Minister for Employment Relations, said: "Tesco has still not got the message - we don't want a superstore here.
"This new plan has the same flaws as the last two - it would break the council's plan for this site and would result in much more traffic on an already congested road system.
"We need new housing and some real community benefit from this site. It is time Tesco understood that."
Councillor Rolson Davies said Tesco would have a fight on its hands and labelled the outlines as "horrible".
Lisa Gagliani, chief executive of Kingston Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the last application, shared the fears of shops in the town.
She was unaware of the plans until we contacted them.
She said: "We are on the side of the existing businesses that are there and the smaller businesses and anything that threatens their livelihood, the chamber would not want to support.
"It's just not the independent retailers, but all existing businesses there. We know the Marks and Spencer is an anchor store that provides jobs and compliments the community.
"I don't want to suggest Tesco wouldn't have the same community spirit, but history suggests they don't embed themselves in the same way."
Jonathan Simpson, spokesman for Spenhill, Tesco's regeneration specialists, said the plans were at an early stage and the company was keen to consult the community.
He said: "The proposals will help the council to achieve its ambitions of attracting more business and shoppers to Tolworth, delivering new homes, and helping to fund their plans to improve links along the Broadway and over the roundabout.
"We want to work with local businesses to maximise the benefits of our proposals for them. We want residents, who go elsewhere to do their weekly shop, to stay in Tolworth and then use services to have a coffee, get their dry cleaning done or buy their children's school uniforms."
The plans will be exhibited on November 26 and 27 at Your Move, 142 Tolworth Broadway.
Controversy over the site dates back to 2001 when Tesco first bought the former Ministry of Defence land.
The land was used as laboratories by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). MAFF relocated about 370 staff in October 1998.
Prior to 2001, controversial plans by Bass to build a £25m family entertainment centre, including a 20-screen cinema and a host of themed restaurants, on the two plots of land were rejected by the council.
Major concerns about any potential development of the site have always centred on traffic generation and the loss of business for smaller traders in Tolworth Broadway.
Campaign groups Tolworth Residents Against Overdevelopment, No to Tesco, and Every Little Hurts all fought the 2009 application.
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