COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles has refused to challenge Tesco’s plans to build a £10million store in Washington – virtually guaranteeing its go-ahead.
He has confirmed there is no need to review Sunderland City Council’s decision last month to approve planning permission.
Only a judicial review challenge by opponents can stop the scheme being rubber-stamped by council chiefs in about six weeks.
That would pave the way for work to start at the Peel Retail Park site – off the A1231 Sunderland Highway near Nissan – in about a year.
Real estate specialist Peel Holdings, which acts for Tesco, said supermarket giants Morrisons and Asda, and Washington’s Galleries owners M&G Real Estate – all opponents – still stood in its way.
Roger Wheeldon, Peel’s senior development officer, said: “This has dragged on as these things sometimes do, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“M&G has gone down the road of a judicial review before, but hopefully they will give in gracefully this time.” Last week, London-based M&G confirmed it was considering all legal options.
Councillor Mel Speding, the council’s cabinet secretary, confirmed Mr Pickles’s Government department had concurred that there is no need to ‘call in’ the council’s original decision.