An MP has described the decision to allow supermarket giant Tesco to build a new store in Ilkley as ‘perverse and undemocratic’.
And Kris Hopkins, Conservative MP for Keighley which includes Ilkley, said he has written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to tell him the current planning regime needs to change.
Tesco finally won a battle for permission to construct the new store in Mayfield Road, after an eight-day planning appeal in July.
After the appeal, Government planning inspector Harold Stephens overturned decisions made by Bradford Council in August, 2009, to refuse permission for the new supermarket and a proposal to transform the existing Tesco store in Springs Lane into a 60-bedroom care home and several retails units.
Mr Stephens’ decisions were revealed last week in a 55-page report and came after a campaign against the plans by a residents’ group called Irate (Ilkley Residents Against Tesco Expansion) and loud opposition within the town.
But Mr Hopkins said the move to overturn the Council’s decisions were wrong.
“The Planning Inspectorate’s decision to support Tesco’s appeal is the wrong one,” Mr Hopkins said.
“It also serves as strong evidence for why the system itself must change.
“It is evident that there is widespread opposition to the new store from local residents in Ilkley, and Bradford Council’s original decision clearly backed this up.
“For a national body – based in Bristol – to simply reverse this adjudication is both perverse and undemocratic.”
Mr Hopkins said he had written to Mr Pickles, a former leader of Bradford Council, to air his grievances.
“The current planning regime, which was inherited by the new coalition Government, needs to change and I have written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to make my views known,” he said.
Meanwhile, members of the Ilkley Design Statement Group, which gave evidence to Mr Stephens during the eight-day hearing, said they were upset with the outcome.
“The Ilkley Design Statement Group is extremely disappointed that Tesco have won their appeal against Bradford Council,” the statement said.
“Our members who were present throughout the Inquiry felt that the objectors had the better of the argument, so it is disappointing that so much effort by so many people has been wasted.
“The Prime Minister’s desire to give power to the local people is not much in evidence here. It would be interesting to know what the common sense Eric Pickles thinks about it. If Tesco can win in Ilkley they can win anywhere!”
Work on a new Tesco store could begin immediately, but is not likely to start for several weeks.