'This Town Will Disappear If Tesco Opens an Even Bigger Store Here'

Article excerpt

Byline: By Gareth Morgan Western Mail

British shoppers spend pounds 1 out of every pounds 8 at Tesco - but when locals in a Welsh market town heard one of the largest stores in the country was on its way, they did not jump up with excitement.

Instead, traders and civic campaigners in this proud historic county town braced themselves for a long fight. There are fears that Carmarthen will be swallowed whole if the retail giant completes its bid to establish a premier store in the area, where a Tesco supermarket already dominates the town centre.

An amended planning application has been submitted to Carmarthenshire County Council for the store at the Five Fields site. While the store was to measure 61,000 sq ft, detailed plans show that there will be a customer cafe, offices and staff room at mezzanine level - bringing the overall floor space to 87,000 sq ft.

This takes it into the superleague of super-sized stores that are being developed to replace the company's old supermarkets under the banner of Tesco Extra.

Concerns are that the town's character will be lost and trade will be destroyed because of the store's monopoly.

The Civic Society's Dr Quentin MacGarvie said the store will be totally unsuitable for Carmarthen.

'Carmarthen will disappear if Tesco comes here,' he said.

'Tesco has a policy of targeting small towns such as Carmarthen and you can see it happening across the UK.'

It is understood the application will go before the planning committee in August.

Pat Jones, chair of the local chamber of commerce, said, 'August is when the council is almost shut down with councillors and staff on holiday. How can the application be discussed properly if not everyone is available?'

The town is already split over the prospect of a large Multiplex cinema and Debenhams flagship store being planned for the old mart site. …