THE government has paved the way for the creation of a controversial Tesco store at Fratton Park, The News can reveal.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has granted planning permission for the 24-hour supermarket, which will go behind the Fratton end at the home of Pompey.
The deal ensures the club will land a seven-figure sum from Tesco developers Point Estates Ltd towards stadium improvements.
Pompey director Ashley Brown said of the government announcement: ‘We are very pleased.
‘It’s an exceptional opportunity for Portsmouth Football Club and opens up a number of opportunities for us. It reunites us with some of our land and creates a commercial opportunity for us to spend money on the ground in the future.’
The application was given preliminary permission by Portsmouth City Council, but Mr Pickles needed the final say given the scale of the development.
Mr Pickles has decided the council’s decision should not be overturned as the scheme does not have ‘wider national impact’.
But local traders, who gathered around 4,000 signatures against the effect of the store on business and the city’s road network, say it is hugely disappointing news.
Andrew Manning, of Portsmouth Fruit and Flower Ltd, in Eastney Road, said: ‘I am very disappointed.
‘I am concerned about the future of the shops here.
‘I felt sick when the council approved this.’
Stephen Dean, owner of Bransbury Park Butchers, said he felt let down by the council, but believes his customers will remain loyal.
Cllr Luke Stubbs, Tory cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, admitted he had concerns about the store’s impact.
But he said the planning committee saw merit in the application given the benefits it will bring to the football club. ‘The government has a focus on economic growth and when a planning application comes in and a local authority supports that, the usual position is not to interfere,’ he said.
A government spokesman said: ‘Only a handful of such cases are called in each year, generally where there is a wider national impact.’
Building work is due to begin on November 1.