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Tesco cuts back new store plan after hostility'

PUBLISHED: 16:43 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 25 August 2010

A SUPERMARKET giant has agreed to scale down its proposal for a huge new store in a town centre.

A SUPERMARKET giant has agreed to scale down its proposal for a huge new store in a town centre.

A plan to build a Tesco Extra store in Watling Street, Bexleyheath is due to be amended by the applicants to reduce the size of the building by a third.

The company attracted condemnation when it announced the retail and housing plan last April, but councillors warned that the plan was still contentious.

Barnehurst councillor Simon Windle said: "I think Tesco was probably completely overwhelmed by the level of hostility they encountered.

"But it's a war of attrition. This is going to start all over again now and the number of objections will probably be fewer as some people won't bother to oppose it again."

The site at the former Woolwich bank headquarters was originally to include some 277 residential units and community facilities alongside one of the chain's largest types of store.

Some residents set up a campaign 'Say No to Tesco' and turned out in large numbers to consultation meetings held by the site's owner, St James' Investments.

Small traders in Bexleyheath were also opposed to another superstore, already facing competition from Asda, Sainsburys and Mark's and Spencer.

James Coffill, manager of the fruit and vegetable stall opposite Adsa, Bexleyheath Broadway said: "Up and down here more and more shops are closing because of the pressure from big stores."

Sidcup traders facing competition from a Morrisions supermarket launched a petition to 'Save Sidcup High Street' last December after empty units rose to nearly 20.

In February Bexley council agreed to spend £1.8 million revamping the high street, after traders collected 1,800 signatures of support. Traders in Welling, however, were keen for supermarkets to reopen in their high street after trade dropped when Tesco, in Embassy Court and the former Co-op closed temporarily.

Morrisons are due to reopen the former Co-op before Christmas and a larger Tesco is due to open in 2010. A spokesman for St James Investments said: "We are offering substantial investment in Bexleyheath. The store alone will provide 500 jobs for the area."

A public viewing of Tesco's revised proposals is due to take place between March 19 and March 21, at the former Woolwich site.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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