Fears superstore at East Looe may cost local businesses
Controversial plans to build a Cornish resort's first supermarket should go back to the drawing board because of research showing the negative effect it could have on local business, a councillor claims.
Town councillor Brian Galipeau said Tesco should rethink its proposal for a store on Barbican Road in East Looe.
He said a retail impact study by independent consultants GVA Grimley had pointed to a worrying effect on local trade.
Instead, he suggested the supermarket giant should consider an alternative site at Polean in West Looe.
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The study found the Tesco bid for Barbican Road could cost town centre businesses up to 38% of their trade, said Mr Galipeau, who emphasised that he was speaking on his own behalf rather than for the council.
"The findings of the report are hardly surprising to those of us who have long been in favour of bringing a decent supermarket into Looe, and oppose out-of-town development," he said.
"With more than 80% of Looe people doing their main shop in other towns, countless millions of pounds worth of trade must have been lost to the town during the wasted years since Polean was first considered for a supermarket."
Mr Galipeau said a benefit of the transfer to Polean would be to improve the integration of the shopping options in East and West Looe.
"The shops on each side of town seem to be promoted as separate centres at the moment, which may be holding them all back," he said.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the firm was pressing ahead with its plans, which are due go before Cornwall Council on December 13.
She said 80% of people who responded to a public consultation in the town had said they were in favour of the development.
The town council had also not objected and a motion to reject the Tesco plans had been overturned, she said.
"At present, three quarters of people in Looe are leaving Looe to do their food shopping," said the spokeswoman.
"Despite what this report says, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that people aren't shopping in Looe town centre anyway.
"We believe providing them with a local food store will mean that people are not driving to Liskeard or Bodmin to do their food shopping.
"When people do their food shopping in Looe they will use other facilities in the town as well.
"We believe our store will keep people shopping in the town."
She added that Tesco had considered the Polean site and had visited it with members of the town council, but it was shown to be unsuitable for a food store because of accessibility issues.