PROTESTERS say a landmark ruling in a planning case gives them a glimmer of hope in their own bid to see off a supermarket giant.
Peel Ltd was given approval to create a £10million Tesco in Washington last month, despite opposition from traders and residents who wanted to see a Morrisons store created instead.
M&G Real Estate, who own the nearby Galleries shopping centre, are also against the proposals as they are worried about a drop in trade.
Campaigners gathered 600 names on a petition against the Tesco development, but claim it was ignored by planning chiefs.
Tesco says it expects to create about 250 full and part-time jobs at Peel, in place of the existing Homebase store, which is next to the A1231 Sunderland Highway in the south of Washington.
But those against the plans say a ruling made at the Court of Appeal which rejected a Peel Holdings plan to redevelop the Whitebirk Retail Park near Blackburn, in Lancashire, could be vital.
Bob Mogford, director of investment at M&G Real Estate, said: “The Court of Appeal judgment is hugely significant and relevant to the issues faced in Washington.
“The ruling has serious implications and effectively re-opens the debate over whether a superstore should be granted planning consent at Peel Park.
“We are considering carefully a number of related complex issues and matters of law, and will discuss the matter further with Sunderland City Council.”
A spokeswoman for Peel said the firm was disappointed with the decision, but disputes M&G’s claim that it will affect the approval of the Washington store. She said: “The recent appeal court decision in respect of the Peel–Hyndburn case is materially different to that at Washington and despite what M&G may say, does not affect the correct planning decision made by Sunderland City Council in respect of our application at the Peel Centre.
“The need for an additional supermarket in Washington is clearly made and the Peel Centre, for many reasons not related to the Hyndburn case, is clearly the most suitable site for it.
“M&G are solely interested in maintaining their shopping centres monopoly in Washington, something members decided before Christmas was no longer in the interests of the people of Washington.”
Councillor Mel Speding, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet secretary, said: “The council’s planning and highways committee considered the planning application from Peel Holdings at its recent meeting.
“It looked at all relevant local, regional and national policies before making its decision.”