MINISTER Eric Pickles will decide this summer whether to grant permission for a new Tesco superstore in Washington.
A report prepared for Sunderland Council’s Planning and Highways Committee recommends councillors reject Tesco’s bid to build a store in Spire Road.
However, as council officers worked on the proposals, Peel Holdings, who would build the store on behalf of Tesco, appealed for “non-determination”, stripping the council of the power to decide the matter.
Given the size of the proposal, Mr Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has decided to “call in” the proposal to be heard at a public inquiry, beginning on Tuesday, June 11.
The council’s report rejecting the plans will now be forwarded to the forthcoming inquiry, which could last as long as 10 days and rack up hefty legal fees.
Among the considerations in the report are the impact on the quality of shopping in Washington town centre, and the resultant effect on its market share.
The report concludes that “there are no other material considerations... as to offset the significant adverse impact of the development proposal on the vitality and viability of Washington town centre”.
Bob Mogford, director of investment management at Prupim, owner of The Galleries, reiterated his belief the plans pose a threat to the future of Washington town centre.
“We welcome the officers’ recommendation to refuse the planning application for this massive new out-of-town superstore.
“National planning policy protects town centres from attacks of this type.”