Tesco plan needs an
independent
assessment

COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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Few people would disagree that choice is a good thing.

But we live in an age in which, for many, even buying a coffee or a sandwich is a confusing business, such is the huge range on offer.

And then there are supermarkets – temples to this era of mass consumerism.

Of course, it is right that shoppers should be able to choose between Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose, but how many more of these stores can little old Portsea Island sustain?

Which brings us to the question of Pompey, their historic Fratton Park home and the plans by Tesco to build a 24-hour superstore adjacent to the ground.

It’s true, Fratton Park holds a special place in the hearts of generations of Pompey fans.

But the sad fact remains that the stadium is in dire need of repair.

As the club has plummeted down the divisions, so revenues have fallen.

And they feel they need to raise cash any way they can.

So they stand to gain a seven-figure sum from landowner Point Estates if Portsmouth City Council grants planning permission for this latest Tesco store.

But what about the impact on the rest of the city?

Apparently the new store would create 300 full and part-time jobs. But what about that company’s city centre store in Crasswell Street? Surely the two, so close together, would not be sustainable?

And there’s the impact on other supermarkets and, perhaps more importantly, the independent traders in the area.

Point Estates has carried out its own retail impact study which admits that some superstores might lose millions if the new Tesco goes ahead.

But in the case of its nearest rival, Asda at Fratton Bridge, it concludes it wouldn’t be adversely affected and that local traders would be ‘largely unaffected’.

Well, they would say that wouldn’t they?

As councillors prepare to scrutinise the plans next week, they might well consider appointing independent consultants to carry out their own assessment.

The results would be most interesting.