Jan 26 2012 by Gary Fanning, Hamilton Advertiser
THE supermarket war in Larkhall is over, with Tesco deciding they will not build a store in the town.
Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, and rivals Asda, owned by American firm Wal-Mart, were in a bitter battle to open a new supermarket in the town.
Last May, Tesco were given the go-ahead for long-awaited proposals to build a 25,000ft store on South Lanarkshire Council’s preferred site, on land occupied by Larkhall Thistle and part of Raploch Bowling Club in the town’s Raploch Street.
The plans were expected to create 150 much-needed jobs.
Tesco in the past have hinted that they might walk away from building a supermarket in Larkhall after Asda were given permission for a store in Broomhill Gate behind Larkhall Leisure.
Now Tesco have officially shelved their plans for a store in the town after the firm said that they had experienced their worse Christmas sales in decades.
A spokeswoman for the firm said that building a new store in Larkhall wasn’t viable after Asda were given permission to build their store in the Cherryhill area of the town.
Asda revealed this week that they are to open 25 new stores across the UK, among them Larkhall, creating 5000 new jobs as part of a £500million expansion.
Larkhall SNP councillor Lesley McDonald said: “I am disappointed that the people in Larkhall won’t be given a choice where to do their supermarket shopping in the town.
“I will be delighted when Asda are fully opened. Larkhall has been without a major supermarket for such a long time.”
Larkhall Labour councillor Andy Carmichael supported both the Asda and Tesco proposals.
“I am very disappointed,” he said. “I wanted people in Larkhall to be given choice, which they haven’t had for many years.
“If a man wants to buy a shirt, then he has to go into Hamilton because there is nowhere in Larkhall.”
When Tesco were given approval for their development in May, their spokesman said Larkhall wasn’t big enough for both stores.
When a land deal between the bowling club and Tesco expired last August, the supermarket giant said they were committed to a new store in the town.
The Advertiser understands council planning chiefs had put pressure on Tesco, asking them when they would begin work on the new store.
As part of Tesco’s plans, Larkhall Thistle would have been relocated to a new purpose-built stadium in the Hareleeshill area and improvements made to the bowling club’s facilities.
Now the Advertiser understands that the agreements with both the bowling club and football club have ended, which means Larkhall Thistle’s stadium plans are in tatters.
Tesco are now looking to sell the land they own in Larkhall.
A Tesco spokesman said: “South Lanarkshire Council made a premature decision in granting the Asda proposal in Larkhall, ahead of our plans for a 25,000 sq ft supermarket at Raploch Street.
“Our site is sequentially preferable and has been adopted by the council as the preferred site in their local plan for a food store.
“Following the approval of our own proposals in May 2011, we have taken time to review our options.
“The granting of the out-of-town Asda application makes the development of this adopted site unviable and unfortunately we will not be progressing with our new store.”
Asda spokeswoman Lisa Rooke said their new store will create 160 jobs when it opens later this year.
“Throughout our consultation process, many people were keen to see our store go ahead and we look forward to welcoming customers to the store,” she said.
A council spokeswoman said: “This week’s announcement by Tesco is disappointing both for the council and for the town. The Planning Service have been made aware and we requested that Tesco withdraw the planning application recently approved for the store.
“Nonetheless, the site remains allocated as a retail opportunity in the South Lanarkshire Local Plan, and as such, the council will continue to support retail development at this location.”