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Decision on Areley Kings Tesco Express delayed for site visit
COUNCILLORS were unable to come to a decision on an application which could lead to a Tesco Express store opening in Areley Kings.
Nearly 100 residents packed out Wyre Forest District Council's headquarters last night, with 50 filling the council chamber and more having to be seated in two other rooms in the building to watch as members of the authority's planning committee heard arguments for and against the application.
After more than an hour, hearing conflicting views from residents and Tesco representatives on the possible effects opening a store at the Areley Common site would have on traffic, quality of life for neighbours and fears large delivery trucks would cause safety problems, councillors decided to defer ruling on the application so they could visit the site.
It means a decision is now likely to be made at next month's planning committee meeting on May 11.
Resident Andrew Booton told the meeting: "Our local experience and knowledge of traffic is based on real-life experience, not computer models. There are clear planning grounds for refusal."
He said Areley Common was a narrow road and lorries would not be able to turn into and out of the site safely, without mounting the pavement.
The road has a weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes, which Tesco's trucks would exceed but the rule does not apply for vehicles accessing sites.
Transport planning agent Nathan Hanks, however, said he would be "out of a job" if delivery trucks could not access the site and suggested Mr Booton was "incorrect and simply being obstructive". He said most of those who would drive to the store would be driving through Areley Kings anyway and a Tesco Express would not have a noticeable effect on the area.
Labour councillor Jamie Shaw also addressed councillors, saying he was concerned about the effect on the quality of life of people living next to the store. He added: "My concern is for the amenity of the residents who live immediately opposite. We have already heard that this is an area where there is only on-street parking for some residents."
He criticised the council planning officer's report which said under a "worst case scenario" the Express would result in an average of about 169 cars per day visiting the site. "It will result in an increase in vehicle movements from next to nothing to 320 cars per day," he argued.
Following the debate, Conservative councillor Marcus Hart said: "I do not know this site as well as others, I think councillors should have a look for themselves."
The idea was opposed by Labour councillor Barry McFarland who argued the committee had inspected the site five years ago when considering an application for the village's Londis store but Liberal councillor Fran Oborski said: "I think it is worth us going to see this as a committee, preferably at a peak time, so we can see for ourselves what the traffic issues are."
Following the meeting, No to Tesco in Areley Common campaigner Mark Bywater wrote on facebook: "So, we get to live another day."
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