£40M tesco 
plan axed

Coun Geoff Walsh
Coun Geoff Walsh
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Supermarket giant Tesco has scrapped plans for a new £40m store in Pontefract, the Express can exclusively reveal.

Wakefield Council bosses say they are “bitterly disappointed” the retailer has pulled the plug on proposals for a mulit-million pound site at Stuart Road, which would have created around 200 jobs in the town.

Coun Denise Jeffery

Coun Denise Jeffery

The authority confirmed this week it had been notified by the supermarket giant it had axed plans for the Tanshelf store following the company’s decision to limit new developments in the UK.

A spokesman from Tesco confirmed it has no current plans to replace the Stuart Road store.

Coun Denise Jeffery, portfolio holder for regeneration and economic growth, said: “It’s very disappointing about Tesco but it’s a national problem. They are pulling out of developments all over the country, as are other supermarkets.

“But we were hoping jobs and growth were going to come from it as it was a massive development.

“We tried to persuade them, we have done everything we can, but it’s a national policy.

“Expectations were raised about new jobs and it’s bitterly disappointing because Pontefract needs this. What I’m hoping now is to mitigate that.”

The Express revealed in July 2011 how the supermarket revamp was part of the council’s five year “masterplan” for Pontefract which aimed to preserve the town’s heritage and provide a much-needed boost for the town.

Pontefract councillor Geoff Walsh said news of the scrapped supermarket plan should encourage council chiefs to make more progress with other regeneration projects.

He said: “It’s obviously sad that the new Tesco isn’t going to come to fruition but we need to find some way of regenerating the town centre.

“It’s an awful shame we won’t see the benefits in terms of jobs because Tesco was going to be a significant employer.

“But it marks a need for us to redouble our efforts to get the town on track again. Pontefract has a lot of promise and we need to see work taking place to make the most of that promise.

“I accept that it’s the economic timing that has gone badly awry but it’s all the more reason for us to deliver.”

Andrew Wallhead, corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, said the council was now reviewing regeneration plans for the Tanshelf area to see what opportunities were available.

Coun Jeffery added the Prince of Wales site off Park Road – which was earmarked for 900 new homes several years ago – was still moving ahead.

She said: “The Prince of Wales site isn’t retail but we are hoping for news on that very soon. We’re putting in bids for different funding to kick start that development and if it comes forward it will make a difference to the town.”