Council backs Tesco's Harrogate superstore plans despite months of no progress

An artist's impression of the Tesco development (s)
An artist's impression of the Tesco development (s)

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has backed Tesco to deliver on its New Park superstore promise despite calls for the plans to be scrapped for affordable housing.

Doubts have been growing in some quarters over whether the store would ever be built on the former gas works site off Ripon Road with some calls for Tesco to ditch their plans.

Despite no work being completed since January 2015, both HBC and Tesco have now confirmed their complete commitment to building the store.

Last week, County Councillor David Simister (UKIP, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) wrote to Tesco urging them to sell the land to developers building one and two-bedroom houses.

However, this suggestion has now been brushed aside by Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) who have reiterated the importance of the superstore being built.

Coun Graham Swift, HBC’s cabinet member for Economic Development and Enterprise, said: “We are keen to ensure the economic prosperity of the district and large employers make a significant contribution to the region.

“A company such as Tesco would create many new jobs and enhance career opportunities for people in the north of Harrogate as well as bringing significant investment into the town

“We are actively addressing the issue of affordable housing within the district, but we are not in a position to confiscate land from private owners.

“I am sure that is the kind of precedent that anyone who owns their own property would not want to see!

“The north of Harrogate needs a superstore and we are hopeful that Tesco will progress with their plans soon.

“Such an investment will help reduce traffic across town by providing a shopping opportunity for residents in the north of Harrogate and continue to ensure that Harrogate gets the most competitive retail offerings from all of the leading retailers.”

Tesco ended it’s five-year battle to gain permission for a superstore in 2011 with the planing committee approving the development amid cross party support.

However, the county council said they are still waiting on Tesco to return back with updated traffic proposals to accommodate the building of the new store.

With frustration over the lack of progress growing, Coun Swift has now called on Tesco to deliver on their “current commitments”.

A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We’re conscious that the community wants to see our site brought into use and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received for our plans.

“We will provide an update on our proposals in the coming months.”