Arson-hit Tesco store is set to rise from the ashes and be rebuilt

Lecturer scoops top award for his research

A Tesco store that was burned down by a teenage arsonist is set to be rebuilt.

Nearby businesses in Grassmere Way, Cowplain, have today welcomed the news after experiencing a drop in trade since the fire in July last year.

Some shops in The Westbrook Centre say their takings have dropped by as much as 20 per cent.

Christina Batchelor, owner of the Brook Pharmacy, said: 'It's great news and will be good for business.

'It's been so quiet and was a hard Christmas here.'

As reported in The News, Daniel Eastley, 19, of Botley Drive, Leigh Park, was jailed for 16 months for causing the 1m destruction of the store.

He used a lighter to set fire to a stack of bread trays at the back of the shop.

Tesco say the new shop will be safer and more secure as it will now have no outside storage area for food and waste.

The overhang of the wooden roof will also be reduced.

Lin Way, owner of Absolutely Barking, said: 'It's good news as far as we are concerned.

'We have missed it.

'I am very pleased it's going to be better secured.

'When the wind blew, because it was not properly secured, all the Tesco litter used to blow over here and made the car park look dreadful.'

Havant Borough Council is now considering the planning application and councillors will vote on the plans at a later date.

It has taken extra time to get the plans together as the owner of the property, from whom Tesco has a rental agreement, lives abroad.

Fireproofing will be key to the success of the planning application as the shop has burned down three times in the past.

The first two fires were when it was a One-Stop.

Cowplain Cllr David Keast said: 'I feel for the other businesses who operate at The Westbrook Centre.

'Their footfall is affected by the closure of Tesco.

'From a residents' point of view I am sure everybody will agree the quicker the store is open, the better.'

If the plans are approved, the Tesco Express should re-open later on this year.

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