Now Tesco has threatened to scrap its own plans for a store in the town on the back of the decision by South LanarkshireCouncil to grant Asda’s application planningpermission, in principle.
Asda and joint applicants Muse Developments expect work to start on the store as early as the autumn, with an ambitious development of 330 homes around the store being built soon after.
The site, on a sprawling wasteland surrounding Larkhall Academy, totals 55 acres and will cost around £55 million, bringing 160 retail jobs and a further 100 jobs in total.
Around 25% of the housing estate’s 330 homes will be social housing. The development will include a restaurant, a 60-bed care home, a nursery and medical centre.
Asda had an earlier application for a much larger store rejected. The Evening Times has learned Tesco submitted a letter of objection to the Asda application just days before the Planning Committee met.
The letter threatened to withdraw the firm’s plan for a site at Raploch Street if the Asda store got the green light.
Tesco felt it was in the driving seat in the race to win planning permission as its proposal matched the area’s Local Plan.
The Tesco proposal, which the council deemed not yet ready to go before the Planning Committee, included plans to relocate Larkhall Thistle Football Club from their current stadium and move Larkhall Bowling Club to a new site to make way for the store.
Thistle are sponsored by Tesco as part of the ongoing negotiations, but their dream of a new stadium could be scuppered if Tesco pulls out.
Larkhall councillor Jackie Burns said: “There has been much said about Tesco and Asda both wanting to build stores in Larkhall.
“For four years Tesco has been trying to come to an agreement with Larkhall Thistle, the bowling club and the council. But while that’s been happening Asda put in an amended application. It was approved on the basis it’s ready to go.
“A retail capacity assessment in 2007 found the town could sustain 53,000 sq ft of retail facilities. Together, the Asda and Tesco proposals come to around 68,000 sq ft so it’s not far off -- the door is not closed on Tesco by any means.”
But Tesco slammed the decision and said it ran “contrary to planning policy”.
A Tesco spokesman added: “This decision effectively renders meaningless any allocation made in the Local Plan. We will be reviewing our options in light of this decision.”
Asda’s communications manager, Philip Bartram, said: “We are delighted with the decision, which gives the green light to a significant investment in Larkhall.
“Asda is looking forward to bringing more choice and competition to the local area as well as creating significant employment opportunities for local people.”
Bruce Lindsay, surveyor with Muse Developments, said: “Both Muse and Asda have worked hard to engage with residents, the community council, local businesses and the council to ensure everyone was kept fully informed of our plans.”
The Asda store will be accessed from a new roundabout on Broomhill Road and will have 235 car parking spaces.
ASDA IN LARKHALL: YOUR VIEWS
GAVIN STEEL, 58, parking meter reader: “This place is jumping now. There’s a Tesco and a Sainsbury’s up the road so I don’t know how there can be any business left. But it’s a sign of the times and there’s not much we can do.”
LORRAINE WELSH, 42, teacher: “That’s good to hear -- I thought it wasn’t going ahead. But local businesses in Lesmahagow have definitely suffered, the butchers and green-grocers more than most. I hope that doesn’t happen here.”
JIM AITKEN, 55, welder: “We’ve already got the ASDA in Hamilton, so a Tesco would have been a welcome change. But as long as it brings jobs to the community, I’m happy.”
LYNN MARSHALL, 41, school support assistant: “It’s great. We won’t have to travel to Hamilton. We have an ASDA there already but I prefer it to Tesco. It will bring jobs to the area and I don’t think it will take money from the Hamilton store.”