Why Leeds store wars is welcomed by local shoppers

Image of the proposed Asda store view on Old Lane, Beeston.
Image of the proposed Asda store view on Old Lane, Beeston.
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Unlike other suburbs in other parts of the city, residents of south Leeds haven’t been objecting to the arrival of supermarket giants on their doorstep.

In Beeston both Asda and Tesco hope to unveil huge stores in the near future. But that all depends on planning chiefs at Leeds City Council saying yes. Up to now they’ve said no – but that may change this year.

“It seems highly unusual, but it also seems silly to me,” says Councillor Mick Coulson, one of the members of the planning panel who are charged with giving the developments a green or red light. “But we can’t make commercial decisions. If two supermarkets want to open close to each other that’s up to them. We can only judge the developments on planning considerations like traffic congestion.”

But traffic congestion is just one of the thorny issues which both supermarkets have tackled head on with local people.

Perhaps sensing they were pushing at an unlocked door, representatives of both Asda and Tesco talked at length with local people, who have been forced to drive outside of their neighbourhoods to access bigger stores for years. And they seem to have won them over.

Robert Winfield of the Beeston Community Forum said: “When it was first announced that Tesco was going to open we immediately submitted a holding objection and we would only remove it if the supermarket reassured us about certain things.

“For example, we insisted they didn’t open 24 hours a day and introduced noise minimising measures on the site.

“As for traffic congestion, we believe that local people would just avoid going to the stores by car during rush hours – which are already pretty busy. Also, some of the existing bottlenecks are probably contributed to by people in the area currently forced to drive outside the area to use big superstores.

“The consensus among local people appears to lean towards us having one store – but if that ends up being a choice between no store and two stores, they’d probably go for the latter option.”