Mar 10 2011 by Gary Fanning, Hamilton Advertiser
A SUPERMARKET war is set to escalate when plans to build an ASDA store in Larkhall are approved next month.
Bitter rivals Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, are likely to launch a legal challenge to stop ASDA’s 20,000ft store in Broomhill Gate which is now expected to be given the green light.
The Advertiser understands South Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, April 5, will give the go-ahead for ASDA’s store behind Larkhall Leisure Centre.
But the decision could spark a legal action from furious Tesco who want to erect a store on the council’s preferred site in the Local Plan.
It means that it could be many years before shoppers see a supermarket being built in the town.
Tesco are likely to argue the council should have waited until their application was ready before making a decision on ASDA’s plans.
The planning committee wanted to make a determination on both proposals at next month’s meeting.
But Tesco’s application is unlikely to be ready for the planning committee’s determination. It is understood the Tesco application won’t go to the committee because nowhere has been found in the town to relocate Larkhall Thistle.
One council source said: “I think the ASDA application will go to the committee and be approved.
“I then predict that Tesco will take the council to court over the decision as their application is not ready.
“Tesco will argue that the council should have waited on them as their proposals are on the council preferred site for a supermarket on the Local Plan and decide both applications at the same time.
“It is a case of brinkmanship.
“Developers for ASDA and Tesco had a legal battle over a site in East Kilbride.”
In November 2009, Tesco submitted long-awaited plans to build a supermarket on land occupied by Larkhall Thistle and part of Raploch Bowling Club at 75-77 Raploch Street.
Discussions have been ongoing for several years between Tesco, the bowling club and football club who would have to leave Gasworks Park to make way for a 25,000sq ft store.
Another council source added: “The question to be asked is how serious are Tesco about their application
“To date, Tesco still haven’t put an offer on the table to buy the land from Raploch Bowling Club.
“It appears that if ASDA are given the go-ahead they will start building a supermarket right away.”
SNP Councillor Peter Craig told the Advertiser this week he would like to see both supermarkets being given the go-ahead.
He said: “The stores will bring much-needed jobs to the area and encourage people to stop leaving Larkhall for food shopping and encourage people from Stonehouse, Kirkmuirhill and other areas to come to Larkhall.”
Labour councillor Jackie Burns, deputy leader of the council, insisted a new supermarket will give a huge boost to the local economy and bring jobs to the area.
“The discussion between Tesco, Larkhall Thistle and Raploch Bowling Club has been ongoing for four years.
“I hope it can be resolved and allow Tesco’s plans to be determined as that is the council’s preferred site in the Local Plan.”
Councillor Burns is concerned about traffic congestion around the town centre and ASDA, especially as it is near Larkhall Academy and a sheltered housing complex.
“I hope the applicant and the Roads Department can find a solution to the traffic flow issues,” he added.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We feel that the only way to achieve a proper decision would be for both applications to be heard at the same committee.
“It is worth noting that our site at Raploch Street has been adopted by the council as the preferred site for future retail development in Larkhall.”
An ASDA spokesman said; “We are looking forward to progressing our application for a store in Larkhall.
“We are thankful to the support of the local people in the area.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The planning committee scheduled for April 5 would be the first available committee at which the applications in question could be considered.
“However, I am not able, at this stage, to confirm the agenda for that meeting.”