Casebook: Appeal cases - Retail development - Tesco Extra store fails sequential flexibility test

An inspector has dismissed two appeals for a Tesco Extra superstore in Greater Manchester after ruling that the appellants had not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in assessing the suitability of sequentially preferable sites.

Permission had previously been granted for a 4,506m2 store on the site.

The appellant company proposed two schemes involving stores of between 7,836m2 and 8,184m2. It argued that there was a need for a larger store and claimed that it was unable to identify other sites capable of accommodating the facility.

Tesco criticised an alternative site put forward by the owners of a shopping mall in a nearby town centre on the basis that it suffered from highway and amenity problems and would be unviable. It explained that the Tesco Extra concept, which offers a wide range of convenience and comparison goods, was its preferred business model for the catchment area so it was inappropriate to attempt to disaggregate the scheme into smaller components.

In assessing the alternative proposal, the inspector recognised that much detailed design work would need to be carried out, including the partial demolition of some of the mall, before it could be taken forward.

However, he judged that it represented a sequentially preferable alternative and would also provide regeneration benefits.

He considered that Tesco was being inflexible in insisting that it would not operate two stores, one selling predominantly convenience goods and the other mainly comparison items. He noted that the retailer had started trading stand-alone comparison goods stores under the Tesco Homeplus name.

In his view, its unwillingness to disaggregate the Tesco Extra trading model meant that the scheme failed to comply with PPS6's sequential approach to site selection.

He also raised concerns over potential trading effects, finding the predicted impact on a local centre unrealistically low. He took into account evidence on the impact of another Tesco Extra store in south Manchester. While conceding that this study was not rigorous, it suggested to him that small neighbourhood shops were particularly susceptible to price competition generated by new superstores. He decided that smaller local centres would be harmed by food and convenience goods and the wider range of comparison goods in Tesco Extra outlets.

DCS No: OT100-045-371; Inspector: Trevor Cookson; Inquiry.

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