The battle over plans for a Tesco store in Sheringham
took a dramatic new twist last night as the supermarket giant vowed to challenge the decision to refuse its application for a store in the resort. Tesco executives have announced they will take a government inspector to court over a flagship ruling which blocked them from building a new supermarket in the coastal town. The move provoked an angry reaction from campaigners who described branded Tesco's stance as “bullying.”The decision to take the case to the High Court will extend the now infamous Sheringham battle by several more months and looks set to cost the taxpayer tens thousands of pounds. The retail giant was told last month that its drawn out attempts to build a 1,500 sq m supermarket in the town would harm the “vitality and viability” of the community, which prides itself on its range of independent traders. But Tesco bosses have insisted there is an “undisputed need” for the new store and will argue that inspector Christina Downes' decision did not match up with the evidence presented at the July inquiry. The Sheringham Tesco saga began in the mid 1990s when the company showed interest in building a store on the old Hilbre School site on Holway Road.Last night campaigner Eroica Mildmay, of Sheringham Campaign Against Mass Retail Overdevelopment (Scamrod) said the court action proved Tesco was a “bullying and ruthless” company.“I think it's astounding you can't say 'no' to Tesco for valid reasons.“This will cement their reputation for bullying and squeezing every last drop of life blood out of a community.“In my wildest dreams I thought they might have a bit of humility, a modicum of decency. But no.” And Richard Hewitt, a town councillor and planning solicitor, said he was disappointed to hear of the court action.“I would have hoped Tesco would have respected the inspector's decision,” said Mr Hewitt.“That decision last month generated quite a lot of good feeling in the town about looking forwards and getting the right solution for the town - in other words a smaller supermarket than that Tesco was proposing.“There is general agreement in the town that we need something smaller, sensitive and complimentary to the town.” Pam Blyth, of campaign group Protesc, said: “Wow, I am delighted, this has made my day.“I am absolutely thrilled and so will a lot of people be in Sheringham.“The town desperately needs a large supermarket - look at Aylsham with its new Tesco and the large Budgens which has been there for years.“We have thousands of people coming to our town and they have nowhere large enough to shop.“You won't believe how many people have written or contacted me since the inspector's September decision to say how much they wanted a supermarket.”Nick Gellatly, Tesco's regional corporate affairs manager said: “A new Tesco in Sheringham would provide a supermarket in the town centre, for which - as the inspector outlines in her report - there is an undisputed need.“The report also recognises Cromer Road as the best location for a supermarket. That view is supported by North Norfolk District Council officers who originally recommended this proposal.“We are challenging the inspector's decision to refuse planning permission on the grounds of size and design because these were not borne out by the evidence presented at the inquiry.“Sheringham needs a new supermarket. I've spoken to a lot of Sheringham people who have told me that not only will a new Tesco store give them choice but it will bring competition to the town while allowing them to do their main food shop locally.“Shoppers will no longer be forced to leave the town to feed the family each week whilst a new, free, town centre car park will encourage people back to the town all year round. That will be good news for everyone.” District council spokesman Nick Manthorpe said last night: “Without knowing what Tesco's grounds of appeal are it is hard to take a view.“As far as we can see, this is now between Tesco and the Planning Inspectorate.” Tesco will now undertake a two stage process. Firstly they will have to apply for leave to appeal, which will require them to prove they have basic merit in their case. If they are granted this permission, they will then proceed to a full High Court hearing.