Five take aways from Harrogate Tesco approval
Last updated Feb 17, 2023
Artist impression of how the Tesco will look on Skipton Road.

Planners this week approved a new Tesco supermarket for Harrogate.

The proposal will see the new store, a petrol station and 209 car parking spaces built on the site of the former gasworks off Skipton Road.

But, the scheme also brought up wider issues over the supermarket.

Here are five takeaways from this week’s decision.

‘No guarantee’ over Jennyfields centre

One major concern raised since the plans for Tesco were first tabled was its impact on the Jennyfields local centre, which includes a Co-op, medical centre and Post Office.

Residents and councillors on Harrogate Borough Council fear that the new supermarket will impact on the areas viability.

The Co-op even submitted its own objection and said it would cut takings at the store by 15%.

The local centre in Jennyfields, Harrogate.

Tesco has suggested it will make “reason endeavours” to replace the Jennyfields store should it be closed – though councillors described the term as “vague”.

However, Martin Robeson, Tesco’s planning consultant at the meeting on Tuesday, said he felt the centre acted more as a “community centre” than retail.

He added:

“This is an interesting local centre because it has a community centre, it has a medical centre and it has a large and popular public house.

“It is a community hub more than it is a retail hub. At the moment, the other retail units are a charity shop, two takeaways and a gentlemen’s barbers. I don’t believe the Co-op acts as an anchor to those other shops.”

Mr Robeson added that a “Tesco Express offer” or “OneStop offer” could be set up in its place.

Meanwhile, when asked how the pharmacy and Post Office would be replaced, Andy Boucher, of Tesco, said the company could make “no absolute guarantee” as they did not know what the “health of the Post Office” would be in five years time.

Gas pipe and the petrol station

One technical issue raised by Cllr Tom Watson was the prospect of building a petrol station on a gas main.

Cllr Watson said he did not feel the plan was “acceptable”.

However, Tesco said it had spent “several months” in discussions with Northern Gas Networks last year over the pipeline.

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Mr Robeson said the concerns raised were “important”, but Tesco had always been aware of the issue since acquiring the former gas site.

He added that detailed risk assessments will be carried out to ensure the site is safe.

Replanting miles away

Some concern has been raised that replacement trees from the site would be planted seven miles away.

Mr Robeson said at the meeting that Tesco had been put to “extreme task to tick all the boxes” in order to replace the trees.

However, the answer was not sufficient for Cllr Stuart Martin who questioned why it had to be so far away.

He said:

“My question was why does it have to be around 10 miles away? Why can’t that biodiversity gain be nearer to the site where it is lost?

“Nobody is going to tell the animals using the habitat that it’s 10 miles away, are they?”

The gates at the former gasworks site off Skipton Road.

The gates at the former gasworks site off Skipton Road.

Cllr Martin asked whether a condition could be imposed to require it to be closer than 10 miles away. However, a council officer says it would be difficult because of land availability issues.

The site being considered is near Stainburn, just outside Beckwithshaw, and is provided by a company called the Environment Bank under agreement with landowners.

Tesco congestion

Unsurprisingly, traffic was also raised during this week’s meeting.

The move to build the Tesco off Skipton Road is feared to increase congestion on one of Harrogate’s busiest roads.

There is also a plan to create a new roundabout at the site entrance, where the A61 Ripon Road and A59 Skipton Road meet at New Park.

Cllr Pat Marsh, a committee member, raised the issue over congestion on Tuesday.

She said:

“This is not the best site for this supermarket at all. If you were on that road today all you heard was a constant movement of traffic.

“You put a roundabout in there and it backs up to the one at Skipton and Ripon Road.

“The impact this is going to have on the people on Electric Avenue is huge.”

Layout for the new Tesco site, as published in January 2022.

Layout for the new Tesco site, as published in January 2022.

Cllr Marsh pointed to the Lidl on Knaresborough Road as an example of people driving to supermarkets, rather than walking.

“The car park is full all the time.”

Cllr Tom Watson pointed out that heavy goods vehicles already use the nearby New Park roundabout due to a weight limit through Killinghall village.

‘Lack of public consultation’

Tesco officials were asked how and when consultation had been held with local residents over the matter.

The question came as objectors claimed that there was “a lack of public consultation” over the new supermarket.

But, Mr Robeson said that the supermarket giant had carried out sufficient consultation with both residents and council officials.

He said:

“Consultation directly with local residents took place through a process during lockdown, unfortunately, so it could not be like we are today.

“That was well advertised and well attended.”

The response that the public consultation was held during the covid lockdowns was met with groans from the public gallery.

However, Mr Robeson added that he felt that a wide consultation process had been held.

“There has been engagement with the officers and the technical officers here who perhaps you might say indirectly represent the community.”

The results of the consultation held by Tesco were revealed by the Stray Ferret in January last year.

According to documents submitted by the company to the council, 187 people responded. Of those, 74% said they wanted to see the derelict site gasworks brought back into use.

A total of 62% said they supported proposals for a new Tesco supermarket at the site.

Sixteen respondents “expressed concern that providing access via a roundabout was inappropriate due to the existing roundabout at Skipton Road / Ripon Road”.

A total of 43 respondents also raised the issue of highways and traffic on the local area.