New Tesco supermarket would threaten future of Jennyfields Co-op, warns report
Dec 5, 2022
The local centre in Jennyfields, Harrogate.

Two of the largest retailers in the country are locked in a battle over the location of a potential new Tesco supermarket in Harrogate.

Last December, Tesco submitted plans to Harrogate Borough Council for its first major supermarket in the town.

The store, off Skipton Road on the site of an old gasworks, would be 38,795 square feet and include a petrol station, 200 car parking spaces and electric vehicle charging points. Tesco says 100 jobs would be created.

Tesco argues the supermarket is needed due to the proliferation of new housing around Skipton Road and towards Killinghall.

However, less than a mile away is the Co-op, which has been attached to Jennyfield Local Centre since 1980. The Co-op claims a new Tesco would lure shoppers and damage takings.

Harrogate Borough Council commissioned consultants Nexus Planning to examine how the new Tesco would impact on the local centre.

This is because key to the Co-op’s argument is a policy in Harrogate Borough Council’s Harrogate district Local Plan 2014-35, which says development must not “lead to a significant adverse impact” of local centres, such as the one in Jennyfields.

Artist impression of how the Tesco will look on Skipton Road.

If it can be successfully argued Tesco would harm the centre it could give the council grounds to refuse the application.

Jennyfield Local Centre was built in the late 1970s to support the growing community on the estate and it includes a small shopping precinct and the Stone Beck pub.

The Nexus report said the new Tesco, and to a much lesser extent the new Lidl on Knaresborough Road, could divert as much as 38% of trade away from the Co-op.

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The report adds that such an impact on the centre’s anchor tenant would, in turn, threaten the future of the whole local centre.

It said:

“In light of [The Co-op’s] well-below benchmark average turnover, its importance in anchoring the local centre and the potential future loss in turnover should the Tesco food store proceed, we have significant concerns in respect of the future vitality and viability of Jennyfield Local Centre as a result of the proposal.”

Tesco’s response

Tesco consultants, MRRP strongly disputed the claim the Co-op would be at risk of closure from the new supermarket, arguing that it is likely to lose just 5% of its regular trade after residents from new housing developments are taken into account.

It said the Co-op and local facilities in Jennyfields would be boosted by the hundreds of new homes that are set to be built in the area. It added:

“In these circumstances, there is not considered to be any threat of closure in relation to the Co-op, none has been asserted by its consultants, or that there is a real risk of other shop units falling vacant.”

MRRP also disputed Nexus’s claim that the Co-op acts as an anchor tenant for the local centre. It said most people visit only to shop and do not use its other units. Two are currently empty and the other is a charity shop.

On November 22, a letter sent by Louise Ford, Tesco’s town planning manager, to the council said it was “disappointed” the two consultants could not agree on the potential impact of the new store.

Ms Ford pledged that Tesco would open a mini supermarket in Jennyfield Local Centre if the Co-op closed within five years of the new Skipton Road supermarket opening.

She said:

“If the Co-op does close within five years of the Tesco store opening and remains vacant for more than six months, then Tesco would use reasonable endeavours to open a convenience format store within Jennyfield Local Centre.”