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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Tesco 'breaching planning laws'
Tesco shopping bag
One store was 20% bigger than planners expected
Supermarket chain Tesco is breaching planning conditions on some of its stores, a BBC investigation has found.

One store opened for business in 2004, only for planning officers to discover it was 20% over the planned size.

And a pile of waste from the building of a Buckinghamshire store remains in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Tesco accepted it made a mistake in the first case and worked with the council to find a solution and was trying to quickly resolve the second case.

The store which was over the planned size opened in 2004 is in Portwood, near Stockport in Greater Manchester.

It is still open for business and is said to be turning over 1m a week.

The company is currently filing a new planning application.

It feels hypocritical that they can dump something the scale of this
Ruth Marshall

Last year during the building of a new Tesco superstore in Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, building works collapsed on to a main railway commuter line.

At the time Network Rail said Tesco and its contractors removed more than 25,000 tonnes of earth and some 60 metres of tunnel structure.

However, 27,000 tonnes of waste from that collapse remains, and it is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Ruth Marshall, who lives near the waste, says she now has the "Pyrenees" as a new neighbour.

It has been there a year, despite an order from the council, because of a continuing challenge from Tesco's contractor.

'Public face'

Ms Marshall said: "There is the public face of Tesco, which is very much the caring, sharing, friendly, family place - yet it feels hypocritical that they can dump something the scale of this - this lump here is kind of out of sight, out of mind.

"The only people that see it are us, and the only other people that see it are people walking the Chiltern footpaths and people walk past and say: 'How can that be there this is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.'"

John Waite, who investigated the supermarket for Radio 4's Face the Facts, said Tesco "stand accused of dragging out the planning process, challenging enforcement orders, manipulating the planning laws, bending them, if you like, and breaking them on occasion."

We work hard to put forward proposals that reflect peoples' concerns and are acceptable locally
Tesco spokeswoman

Tesco said it worked with "hundreds of councils around the UK to bring investment, jobs and lower prices to communities".

A spokeswoman said: "Local authorities control the planning process, not Tesco and it is a democratic and tough regime. We work hard to put forward proposals that reflect peoples' concerns and are acceptable locally.

"We don't always get things right, as was the case in Stockport, but we have worked with the council there to find a solution.

"At Gerrards Cross, our contractor had to move the material quickly and safely to ensure the tunnel could reopen and we are now working with them to get this situation resolved as soon as possible."

Tesco is Britain's biggest retailer and has a 30% share of the UK's supermarket sector.

The firm, which saw profits reach 2.25bn in the past year, has increasingly branched out into non-food goods, such as electrical goods, music and clothes.

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