PROTESTERS opposed to what could be the ninth Tesco store in Worthing have said they are “furious” at the way the planning decision might be made.
A group of people staged a protest, organised by Worthing Solidarity Network, outside the site of the proposed Tesco store along Wallace Parade, in Goring Road.
In December last year, Tesco lodged an application with Worthing Council to change the existing floorspace of the former Caffyns car showroom site to retail use.
One of the protesters, John Hughes, a retired systems engineer, said: “I am very concerned about the way our planning system is allowing multinationals like Tesco to take over our town, squeezing out small shops thus creating so many empty premises.
“Shopkeepers and residents are furious this ninth Tesco could be approved, not by the town’s planning committee, but by something called ‘delegated powers’.
“From what I understand, government has allowed many planning decisions to be determined by council officers instead of our elected councillors, something I believe is undemocratic.”
Delegated powers are given in the UK to planning officers to determine some planning applications without the requirement for the application to be put before a planning committee.
However, the protest has prompted Worthing and Adur council’s executive head of planning, regeneration and wellbeing, James Appleton, to examine whether the decision should, instead, be made by the council’s planning committee.
He said: “I am currently considering whether, in light of the level of public interest, this application should go to planning committee and we are trying to address concerns raised by local residents about traffic and deliveries.”
Mr Appleton said in line with other councils, Worthing’s scheme of delegation ensures all major planning applications (defined as those over 10 dwellings or 1,000 sq m of commercial floorspace) are considered by the planning committee, as well as those which conflict with planning policies.