Superstores give views over presence in Leven

Sainsbury, Leven
Sainsbury, Leven

RIVAL supermarket giants went head to head last week on the need for a new store for Leven.

Representatives from Tesco and Sainsbury’s outlined their case before Fife Council’s planning committee, with an application on the table for a new Tesco’s superstore in the town.

No decision will be made until after future meetings of the planning committee and the full council.

However, members called for a study of the impact, if any, on the potential re-opening of Leven’s rail link – described by Glenrothes member John Beare as “still Fife Council’s number one transport priority”.

Last week’s meeting was a pre-determination hearing, as the application was “significantly contrary to the Development Plan”.

The land at Riverside, occupied by Pfaudler-Balfour, had been zoned as a “proposed employment site”.

The proposal, by Tesco/Robbins and Myres UK, is for a class one retail store, with associated car parking, access and servicing, with a gross floor area of around 3300 square metres.

Issues raised last week will form part of a full assessment of all related matters before the application is detemined.

Councillors wanted more detail on transportation and pedestrian links and the possible effects on High Street shops, as well as the rail link.

Levenmouth councillor David Alexander said a contradiction also had to be resolved over the alleged offer, then withdrawal, of a £180,000 payment by the applicant for the loss of employment land.

Tim Ferguson, an associate director of Turley Associates, for Sainsbury’s, said it had traded in the town for 15 years, employed over 200 people, and had become an integral part of the community.

The Tesco store was located away from the town centre, which was of little or no benefit to Fife Council’s regeneration plans for the area, while Tesco had either over-estimated or not done enough on many aspects of its research.

Mr Ferguson added a new store would lead to “a dilution of local market share”.

John Morgan, of WR Morgan Enterprise Ltd., which owns some Leven town centre properties, urged councillors to protect High Street shops by restricting the amount of space Tesco could devote to the sale of non-food or comparison goods.

Phil Pricthett, planing consultant for Tesco, said no other sites in Leven could support the 160-job plan in its current form, while the land had not been identified for employment when the application was first made.

It was supported by the council’s independent retail consultants and the Levenmouth area committee, he added.