Supermarket giant Tesco has scrapped plans for a new superstore in Hampshire, it has been revealed.
The scheme on the Broadlands Estate, home of Lord and Lady Brabourne, was one of the most controversial planning battles in the county.
For the last two years it has sparked a storm of protest from the public and town centre traders and scores of “Say no to Tesco” posters appeared in windows.
Tesco claimed that surveys showed Romsey needed a second large supermarket, as almost half of shoppers in the town did their food shopping elsewhere.
However, Tesco regional corporate affairs manager Jack Pearson said: “As we announced earlier this year we are building fewer large stores. Customers are increasingly shopping online and in convenience stores and we have reconsidered our proposal in the light of these changing habits.
“We know this will be disappointing news for the many people in Romsey who have supported our plans.
“We will continue to serve our customers in Romsey through our home delivery service and from our other local stores.”
He said that Tesco had no plans for a convenience store in the Romsey area and he could not put a figure on the cost of the abortive planning process.
Last April Tesco announced that it was to ditch plans to open more than 100 major new stores, but at the time it said it would continue with its Romsey plan, which it claimed would create 200 jobs.
However, last month the company announced its worst sales results in more than two decades, down by 3.8 per cent, which saw its market share fall from 30.3 per cent in 2013 to 28.9 per cent and the chain’s chief executive Philip Clarke announced he would step down in October.
Colin Burgess, chairman of the Say No to Tesco campaign, said: “It’s taken Tesco nearly three years to come round to our point of view.
“I think there are some executives who are trying to save their skins before they are called to account for a wrong decision when their new CEO arrives.”
The decision comes as a blow to Broadlands who would have made millions from leasing the 6.5-acre site, known as the Fairground Field, to Tesco.
Estate manager Richard Jordan Baker said: “This news obviously comes as a great disappointment after so much hard work.
“However, we must accept and respect Tesco’s decision. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people in Romsey who have lent their support to this project. All the letters, emails and logs from telephone conversations of support we have received will be archived for posterity. Broadlands will now take stock and consider the way forward.’”
He added that the estate was pursuing other projects, including an 80-acre solar farm. It was believed the application had stalled because of a row over traffic levels with roads chiefs.
Romsey and District Society also disputed Tesco’s traffic figures and conducted their own survey which they claimed showed that the supermarket had underestimated the levels of congestion a store on the bypass would cause.
President of Romsey Chamber of Trade, Peter Speirs, said “This is good news for the small traders in the town. However, I understand that some people who wanted another supermarket won’t be so happy. The chamber have always said that Romsey needs another small or medium-sized supermarket but it must be within the boundary of the town.”