Proposed store site ‘suitable for homes’

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LAND on which Tesco proposals for a superstore were rejected is potentially suitable for housing, a public inquiry heard.

The retail giant is appealing Sheffield Council’s decision to reject its plans for land near Ox Hill, Halfway, last year.

The authority said the land is required for homes supply over the next five years.

Yesterday, the final day of the inquiry, planning advice expert Christopher Hough, lead consultant on Tesco’s planning application, was cross-examined by the council’s barrister Jonathan Easton.

He admitted the site, owned by Hallam Land Management Ltd, was potentially suitable for both retail and housing uses.

Mr Hough said: “This is a suitable site for retail and suitable land for housing.

“It would be more suitable for retail because of the improvements to public transport but certainly they both cross the threshold of suitability.”

In Mr Hough’s written proof, however, he said the ‘council’s suggestion that the site should be safeguarded because it has potential as a future housing site is inappropriate, highly uncertain and such a use would not deliver the planning benefits or contribution to the Government’s economic growth agenda to the same degree’.

In questioning, he added there was ‘far greater certainty’ that the retail scheme would boost the economy than any potential housing.

The inquiry ended yesterday after parties including planning inspector Laura Graham visited the site. The hearing originally began in November but had been adjourned.

It has heard from Tesco, which says its scheme would create 450 jobs and give more choice to shoppers.

Concerns that the store would have an impact on nearby shopping centres at Killamarsh and Eckington have also been raised and refuted.

Asda has objected to the scheme as it has its own plans for a store near Crystal Peaks.

A decision on the plan is expected in about six weeks.