CONTROVERSIAL plans for a Tesco–based dry cleaning and key cutting service were approved by councillors despite concerns it would spell the ‘death of small businesses’.
A 127-signature petition was presented to Arun District Council against the Timpson ‘pod’, which will be built outside the Broadpiece supermarket.
But the development control committee had little option but to grant the application last Wednesday, as competition concern was not a valid reason to refuse permission.
Addressing the committee, Lyminster resident Carol Hatton said: “It will inevitably mean the death of small businesses in Littlehampton. Tesco will undoubtedly survive if this is rejected.
“The town centre has been gradually eroded by the greed of the big boys. We must not let this happen to our towns and villages. Does the little man not matter any more?”
The service, to be run under the Timpson brand, was opposed by Littlehampton Town Council, Civic Society and Traders’ Partnership, along with 54 letters of objection.
Traders said the service was ‘entirely unnecessary’ as independent businesses in the town centre already catered for demand. Officers argued similar services in Rustington and Bersted had resulted in ‘no adverse impact’.
Traders’ Partnership chairman Simon Vickers said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision. While we understand refusal is not straightforward, we are upset that other councils have found ways to refuse similar applications.
“We provided evidence of this but the council obviously decided not to use this evidence.”
Andrew Sleeman, of Spokes, in Beach Road, spoke to a councillor in Cornwall whose authority had rejected a similar Tesco application.
He said: “I would like to ask Arun to please explain how that went through. It doesn’t make sense. The council in Launceston refused it as it would have been detrimental to the vitality of the town centre.”
Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower said: “Regrettably, clearly there will be some competition issues but the application should in my view be permitted.”
A spokesman for Arun said each application was decided on its merits.
She said: “Reference has been made to councils which have refused to grant planning permission for such pods, but there are also other councils which have approved them, Arun District Council is not the only one.
“Each case is judged on its own merits and on balance, for the reasons set out in the council’s committee report, the proposal was considered to be acceptable and was recommended for permission, which was granted by members of Arun District Council’s development control committee.”
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