Tesco set to move into Stevenage Old Town leaving Garden House Hospice searching for new charity sho

THERE is concern that Tesco is planning to open a store in Stevenage Old Town. The UK s largest supermarket plans to move into the Elmes Arcade only a few yards away from the Waitrose store. We uncovered the plans this week although it seems Stevenage Bo

THERE is concern that Tesco is planning to open a store in Stevenage Old Town.

The UK's largest supermarket plans to move into the Elmes Arcade only a few yards away from the Waitrose store.

We uncovered the plans this week although it seems Stevenage Borough Council has known about it for some time.

The arcade, owned by a member the Elmes family where they have a window and double glazing business, is also the home to one of the Garden House Hospice's most profitable charity shops.

They now have until January to find new premises and appealed for help this week through the Comet to find a new home in the town.

Stevenage Old Town councillor James Frazer said he was concerned about the overall impact it would have on the High Street and feared some smaller shops would suffer.

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"I have spoken to many businesses in the Old Town and I get the feeling there are great concerns about Tesco Express coming to the High Street," said Cllr Frazer.

"Personally I would prefer Tesco not to be in the Old Town because it would be a threat to other stores."

Cllr Frazer added: "I have spoken to the manager at Waitrose and they are obviously concerned as they have just signed a seven-year lease on their store. I hope they will stay.

"But Tesco coming will affect so many stores."

Asked for a statement on Tesco's proposals a Waitrose spokesman said: "We have no comment."

But there was grave worry from The Garden House Hospice as the Elmes Arcade shop brings in �1,000 a week for the charity.

Hospice trustee Dr Margaret Judd said: "This is a big blow for us as the Stevenage shop is responsible for about a quarter of our turnover which is a big slab of money and amounts to �1,000 a week towards the hospice.

"When we found out Tesco was moving in and we were being forced to move out our first thoughts were where do we go?

"We have been looking for new premises but there is nothing out there so we would like to appeal to Comet readers this week for help. Anyone who knows of premises we might rent please contact the paper."

Mr Raymond Elmes, owner of the arcade, was unavailable for comment as he is on holiday but a member of staff confirmed that Tesco was moving in but could give no date.

A Tesco spokesman said: "We are always on the look out for possible new sites all over the country and are often in negotiations for suitable schemes for Express stores, however these often never materialise. Until an agreement is reached or an application made we would not comment on individual cases.