Coventry & Warwickshire

Tesco gives £1m for Southam projects

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A supermarket is giving more than £1m to town centre projects, as part of its planning approval agreement.

The recently opened Tesco store in Southam is contributing the money to arts and businesses.

The money will be spent on projects aimed at attracting more visitors to the town, such as festivals, and helping existing businesses.

A Stratford District Council spokeswoman said it was a "brilliant opportunity" for the town.

BBC research shows at least 577 planning applications for the 'big four' supermarkets - Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Asda - were approved in the UK over the past two years.

'Community hub'

In the West Midlands, 46 applications were successful. Of these, nine were for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Tesco in Southam opened in August.

As part of its application it contributed more than £850,000 for town centre improvements as well as more money which will be spent on improving public transport.

The district council said the town centre money would, among other things, go to building a new "community hub" for Southam, where residents can inquire about services and to providing business support grants.

"Southam is quite quiet and there are some empty shops," a council spokeswoman said.

"There was some opposition to the store but it is there now. It is not going to go away so now we need to help businesses in the town offer something different."

Tesco issued a statement which said: ""The BBC figures are incomplete and misleading.

"Most of our new store applications are not for large supermarkets but for small, local convenience stores, the likes of which millions of customers have relied on to get food in the bad weather."

It said the firm had invested in the UK during the recession and created tens of thousands of jobs - many of which were in the most deprived areas of the country.

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