It took a knife-edge vote by planning committee members to secure planning permission for a major new superstore on the fringe of Birmingham City Centre.
Councillors were divided on whether Tesco’s plans to demolish Monaco House office block on Bristol Street to make way for a new superstore should go ahead.
A five all vote was finally settled in the superstore’s favour on the casting vote of committee chairman Coun Mike Sharp (Lab, Tyburn).
Tesco and Asda, via developer Crest Nicholson, have been involved in a tit-for-tit ‘store wars’ battle over rival superstore plans for the area since 2005, with each accusing the other of blocking tactics.
A government inspector ruled, following a public inquiry in 2007, that the Crest/Asda plan for the Park Central site should be approved and Tesco’s Monaco House scheme refused.
With nothing built, new planning regulations introduced and the Asda consent set to expire in the next few months, Tesco now appears ready to step back in.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We are thrilled to have been given planning permission for a new store on Bristol Street.” He would not commit to a construction timetable until any prospect of fresh legal challenge is removed.
But objections were raised over fears it could increase traffic on an already heavily congested commuter route, that the store is not needed and that a tunnel access road is not safe.
Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said that the Government had rescued Birmingham from ‘it’s own folly’ in 2007 by rejecting the old Tesco plan and argued it should not go ahead as it would add to traffic problems.
“On many occasions I sit in a very large traffic jam outside Monaco House, sometimes for as much as 20 minutes. Anyone who says a large store will not worsen the traffic situation is living in cloudcuckoo land.”
Transport officials argued that the store would simply divert traffic already on the road network.