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Margate residents appeal against giant new Tesco

Retail expert Mary Portas 'devastated' by the decision to give the store the go-ahead

Angry residents of Margate have appealed to the High Court against the Government’s decision to build a giant Tesco store on the seafront.

The retail expert Mary Portas said on Friday she was “devastated” by the decision of Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to give the store the go-ahead, adding it would have a “catastrophic” impact on the Kent town.

His approval is especially contentious as Margate received £100,000 of taxpayers’ money last year as one of 27 so-called “Portas Pilot” towns. It featured in Ms Portas’s Mary Queen of the High Street programme last month.

Louise Oldfield, a local businesswoman, lodged the appeal at the High Court on Tuesday on the grounds that the development is “unlawful”.

Ms Oldfield said that as well as having a detrimental impact on independent retailers,  the 82,000 sq ft store would bring a “devastating amount of traffic to the sea front” and “severely damage” Margate’s prospects for attracting more visitors.

The group of residents and traders have asked Freshwater Developments not to begin work until the lawfulness of Mr Pickle’s decision is determined by the High Court; the first hearing is set for November.

Ms Oldfield, who was on the Portas Pilot town team in Margate, said: “The proposed superstore development flies in the face of Margate’s decade-long regeneration programme that has already shown improvements and is turning around Margate’s previously well-documented decline.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it had “carefully considered all the issues” and would respond “in due course” to any legal submission.

Brian Greenwood at Osborne Clarke, the law firm representing Freshwater, said the developer would “resist” the appeal. Tesco said it was “a tenant in this developer-led project”, adding: “The developer’s application is now subject to a judicial review.”