Thumbs down for Tesco supermarket application in Cheddar
Tesco’s application to build a superstore in Cheddar has been roundly and sometimes rudely voted down at a packed public meeting in the village.
During a special meeting of the parish planning committee, which started late in order for the hundreds of interested parties to get into a changed venue, councillors listened to impassioned pleas from villagers.
Many opinions centred on the unsuitable location of the proposed superstore, which if it happens will take over land currently used by Cheddar Football Club.
Resident Jill Youdas of the village received the warmest applause of the evening when she described Tesco’s plan for a foodstore and petrol station as “A blot on our landscape.”
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She added: “It feels like rural vandalism on a large scale. I do object to being just one more more pin on Tesco’s map.”
Her public submission was one of eight made before Cheddar Parish Council voted on the plans, which were rejected unanimously.
Earlier in proceedings Councillor Nigel Taylor warned the public at the meeting at Fairlands Middle School in the village not to turn it into Strictly Come Dancing when supporters of the development held up posters showing “Yesco” in the company’s colours.
But the meeting, which for many was the first opportunity to look at any detail at the proposals from Tesco, was generally well mannered.
The public heard that the development could potentially lead to an additional 1.8 million car trips around the village, while another speaker claimed that this could mean a car every six or seven seconds trying to get across the notorious bottleneck of the bridge leaving the village along the A371. The Tesco plan was variously described as ‘eye-sore’, ‘ridiculous’ and one that would be responsible for ‘ripping the heart out of Cheddar.’
In support of the application, Trevor Harvey, who has lived in Cheddar for more than 30 years said: “It is a harsh reality that time brings acceptance to change.”
Reminding residents that there had once been a campaigns against Budgens building a supermarket in the village.
“It will bring chances and it will bring value,” he said.
A representative from Tesco made several pledges to locals including offering advertising space in the store to existing Cheddar businesses. Melanie Chiswell also promised that if the large store was built, that the smaller Metro store in the village would remain open. She also said that Tesco were talking about investing in a bus service to take customers safely to the new site.
“The petrol station will bring value and convenience,” she said.
“The fact is that 67 per cent of people leave Cheddar for their shopping anyway.”
She added that Tesco was committed to working with the community, in particular on plans with Cheddar AFC to create a sporting legacy in the village.
The Environment Agency has already rejected the site chosen by Tesco, described by one objector as the “worst possible place for a development,” as one at severe risk of flooding. But Ms Chiswell said that the company is actively working with the Agency to address this problem.
After nearly an hour of discussion, the application was rejected by unanimous vote.
However the chairman of the committee was keen to stress that this alone was not enough to stop the application and that it would only be taken into consideration by Sedgemoor District Council when they consider the proposal.