Councillors back Tesco store plan

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FIFE Council has approved plans by Tesco to build a new store in Leven, despite councillors expressing some concerns about the impact on smaller retailers in the town centre.

Tesco still requires to conclude a legal agreement with the Council on a number of conditions – including payments towards employment initiatives, town centre and transport improvements, and public art – but the company is delighted to have cleared another major hurdle in the process towards creating the new store, which will be located on land at Pfaudler-Balfour, near the existing Sainsbury’s.

Speaking after Thursday’s Council meeting, Gloria Coats, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “Our proposals have received support from local people and Leven Community Council, as well as Levenmouth Area Committee. It’s fantastic to see the full Council recognising the benefits of our investment as well.

“The new Tesco superstore will provide more shopping choice for customers in Leven, bring over 160 jobs to the area, and help people to shop locally. We are also pleased to be able to contribute towards town centre improvements, public art, and improved transport and pedestrian links.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Fife Council and Pfaulder-Balfour so that a planning consent can be issued and we can bring this investment to Leven.”

Tesco will contribute £110,000 
towards town centre and transport improvements. It will also pay £180,000 towards employment initiatives to compensate for the “loss of employment land”.

Councillor Alistair Hunter (SNP, Leven, Kennoway and Largo) gave the plans a cautious welcome. He was particularly pleased by the new jobs and the additional choice for consumers, Tesco’s offer to engage with local suppliers so that local produce and items could be sold in store, the £290,000 investment and the stability the application gives to keep manufacturing at Pfaudler-Balfour in Leven.

He added: “The investment by Tesco – and other major investments by Diageo – are signs that we are an area on the up, an area full of potential and an area served by a dedicated and diligent workforce.

“On the downside, I fully acknowledge the impact that a large store might have on the smaller retailers in Levenmouth and that large stores may not meet the needs of all business and consumers, and this may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some local businesses.

“It’s absolutely imperative that Fife Council’s economic development team works with all business and community stakeholders to help reshape the town centre and associated transport linkages to make the most of the opportunity and resources available.”

Councillor Andrew Rodger 
(Independent, Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss villages) also expressed concerns for the future of the town centre, but agreed it was a positive sign when big name companies, such as Tesco, B&Q and Sainbury’s were willing to invest in Levenmouth.

SNP group 
leader, Councillor Peter Grant, agreed, adding: “On balance there might be a detrimental effect on small businesses, but the message to the people is Levenmouth is on the way up. We should welcome a company on this scale thinking Levenmouth is the place to invest for the future.”