Royal Borough councillors last night overwhelmingly gave their support to the campaign to stop Tesco opening a shop on the site of the Golden Harp pub in Maidenhead.
Yesterday's full meeting of the council received two petitions - signed by 1,908 and 1,786 people - opposing plans to change the Golden Harp pub in Furze Platt into a Tesco convenience store.
Councillors heard resident Mark Newcombe, chairman of the Furze Platt Action Group, say that 89 per cent of people in the area were opposed. They felt a Tesco store would attract 10 times the traffic a pub did - putting children at risk.
Cllr Michael John Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham) - cabinet member for planning said: "In the suburbs and country areas we have to preserve the environment of the residents and 4,000 people have told us they don't want Tesco in Furze Platt."
Councillor after councillor echoed this view - with just one dissenting voice.
Cllr Tom Bursnall (UKIP: Clewer East) was soundly booed by a packed public gallery when he said: "Unfortunately I have to bring some free market conservatism to this debate. If Tesco really is not wanted here it will fail. But I suspect it will turn into a successful business."
But his fellow ward councillor Cllr Eileen Quick (Con, Clewer East) took him to task, citing what happened in Windsor when The 3 Elms pub was taken over by Tesco. She said: "Every day now I'm sent photographs of cars parked on double yellow lines, delivery lorries on double yellow lines. The safety of our children is now at risk."
But the fight against the planned Tesco store at Furze Platt still has a long way to go.
The decision at yesterday's meeting to back residents opposing the scheme is only a first step. Councillors voted to ask members on their powerful Maidenhead Development Control Panel to consider making an article 4 (1) direction, forcing Tesco to apply for planning permission to change the Golden Harp pub into a store.
Normally Tesco would not need to apply, as turning a pub into a convenience store is not regarded as a change of use under existing planning law.
Even if planning councillors do decide to force Tesco to apply for permission, the authority runs the risk of ultimately having to pay compensation to the company.
If the planning panel does use article 4 (1) and turns down the application by Tesco, the company could appeal to a government inspector who could overturn councillors' decision and award costs against the borough.
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