Controversial plans for Accrington’s soon-to-be-opened Tesco store to increase its retail space have been passed by planning chiefs – just days before it is due to open.
Originally, the store on Eagle Street had been granted planning permission on condition that the sales area would not exceed 4,459 square metres.
But Tesco applied to have this condition changed so the sales area would not exceed 4,895 square metres – an additional 436 square metres of space.
The store also applied for permission to add 20 additional car parking spaces for use by staff.
It follows news that the supermarket giant had slashed 250 previously announced posts at its brand new store.
When plans were submitted two years ago 450 jobs were mooted but 191 positions have been filled.
Hyndburn council’s planning committee heard that the store would not need to be extended and would simply use space within the store which had not previously been earmarked for sales.
But the move came under fire from councillors during the planning committee meeting.
Coun Dave Parkins said: "I voted against this in 2008.
"When the store opens on Monday, there will be traffic chaos and they are talking about an extra 20 spaces.
"There just doesn’t seem to be any level playing field among these supermarkets.
"I know we got one in Great Harwood, but it replaced the Co-op, so fair enough. I just think this is greed and it will drive a nail in the coffin of the town."
Coun Allah Dad said: "When this was first put forward, we were promised 450 jobs..
"I believe the number shrank to 191 jobs. Most of them should have gone to local people."
Councillor Clare Pritchard said: "We were promised before there would be a maximum space the store would need. Why did they add this extra storage area if they didn’t need it for that?
"We have invested £2million in the market hall and this will be the final nail in the coffin.
"We were promised 450 jobs and we have ended up getting a fraction of that.
"They lost the store in Nelson and when they got rid of it and left it, it was like a ghost town."
But other councillors said they did not feel the extra floor space would have a negative impact on trade in the town.
Coun Doug Hayes said: "The only thing that matters is the fact that the store is going to open on Monday, no matter what.
"I can’t see this extension of floor space is going to make a difference one bit."
Councillor Lynne Wilson said: "Tesco is not woolly. They won’t just leave the store an empty space and we have to accept the fact that it will open."
Coun O’Kane moved that the scheme be refused, but the counter-motion was defeated.
Councillors then voted to pass the plans. The store is due to open its doors on Monday, November 22.