Campaigners fear a new superstore will steal local trade, kill off independent shops and leave a town centre abandoned if allowed to go ahead. Supermarket giant Tesco already has enough store space in and around Portsmouth to fill more than 50 football pitches – but it wants more. Now, the chain's bosses hope to knock down the store in Solent Road, Havant, and build one more than double its size, at 100,405 sq ft. But they may have a fight on their hands after scores of residents objected in writing to the proposal. Now Havant Borough Council planners are wading through 51 letters arguing that the plan rings the death knell for small shops and businesses in Havant, Emsworth and Bedhampton. Valerie Bird, of Manor Close, Havant said: 'This will suck the life-blood out of our town. All the small shops are struggling against the pressure of supermarkets and will find it even harder to exist.' Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray, of Emsworth, and chairman of the Emsworth Business Association, said: 'Smaller businesses have been here for years, and help the cycle of buying, growing and selling locally. Tesco is now too big. Enough is enough.'
Tesco's south coast corporate affairs manager, Felix Gummer said: 'We know people are leaving the town to do their shopping. We want to keep shoppers in Havant and attract more. We believe they will go into town for more variety. We want to improve links between the store and town centre.'
Tesco are starting to sound like a broken record.