GROCERY giant Tesco's bid to convert a car salesroom into its 13th store in town has been held up by councillors.

Reading Borough Council planning committee has delayed its decision on the revised planning application to build a Tesco Express at Parson's Garage on Oxford Road, until the panel assesses its impact on surrounding roads.

Planning officers had advised the council to accept the bid - 10 months after the committee turned down its previous application on the grounds it would cause transport chaos.

But local shopkeepers and residents complained the renewed bid would still create extra noise and congestion in an area close to Oxford Road Community School and major bus routes.

Green Party activist Alan Lockey told last Wednesday's meeting: "It's totally inappropriate, the road narrows and there are going to be huge lorries going in there."

Battle ward councillor Gul Khan, backed by colleague Cllr Sarah Hacker, warned that although it would create 20 extra jobs the shop would "kill off" neighbouring newsagents and convenience stores because the site already lies within a mile of Tesco Extra in Portman Road and another Tesco Express at the eastern end of the Oxford Road. But Laurence Holmes, speaking for Tesco, stressed most customers would arrive on foot and delivery lorries would be restricted to

12.6 metres in length. He said: "It's a carefully consulted scheme which we hope will improve and regenerate an eyesore."

But panel member Cllr Chris Maskell, who also represents Battle ward, demanded members organise a site visit before taking a decision, arguing that a transport assessment based on traffic using a similar-sized Tesco Express store in Tunbridge Wells was unrealistic.

He said: "It's important that we make this absolutely right so we are exhaustive in questioning so we arrive at a proper decision."

If approved, Tesco would make a £113,798 contribution to improving transport infrastructure.

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