TESCO has missed an opportunity to revamp a historical part of Stratford town centre, it has been claimed.
The supermarket giant is set to take over the former HMV shop on High Street and turn it into an Express store by Christmas. It maintained refurbishments would involve minimal external works and a new shop front.
But the decision to just carry out minor works on the shop front prompted criticism from many including ward member and councillor Jenny Fradgley, and the Stratford Society, who says more could have been done to help preserve the the town’s heritage.
The former mayor argued the store’s plans were not in keeping with the “historic spine” which forms part of the walk from Shakespeare’s birthplace to his grave.
Currently lying derelict, she said Tesco had been approached by both the town and district council to discuss ways the Grade II listed building and its shop front could be made more in keeping with its surroundings.
And despite raising their concerns at a recent meeting, members of Stratford District Council’s planning committee (west) voted by eight to three in favour to grant the plans as submitted.
Speaking afterwards, Coun Fradgley told The Observer: “I have no issue with Tesco moving in – that was in no way the problem.
“The sole issue was the fact that money was available to help make shop fronts more traditional and we gave Tesco ample opportunity to discuss this with us, which they opted not to do.”
Two years ago a shop front design guide was created to help the council preserve Stratford’s historic spine, which has led to other stores such as Jack Wills and Zeiss improving their shop fronts.
But Coun Fradgley believes Tesco has not taken the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
She added: “Tesco have come into an internationally-renowned tourist town and we wanted a shop front that enhances the historic spine but their plans simply don’t do that.
“Of course, they are very proud of their heritage but Stratford is too and I just feel it’s a missed opportunity for Tesco and the town to achieve something really substantial together.”
Simon Petar, Tesco corporate affairs manager said: “We are very pleased councillors agreed our design was sympathetic to the surrounding area as we want to fit in with the community and play our part in sustaining its rich heritage.”
Tesco already has a large Extra store on Birmingham Road and a Tesco Express convenience store on Banbury Road.
It is likely somewhere in the region of 20 jobs will be created by the new High Street store.