Unhappily for them, one retail impact report after another confirmed that an out of town superstore would have had a ruinous impact on Ledbury town centre.
Marshalling a supreme PR effort delivered through their proxies in the community and elsewhere, Sainsbury's sought to paint our campaign - Ledbury Opposes Out of Town Superstores - of being stuck in the past, elitist, pandering to greedy shopkeepers, and trying to wrap the town up in cling film. We were characterised as bullies and tyrants. Our motives were all about selfishness and trying to stamp on the local community. It didn't work.
The planning committee in Herefordshire Council threw out the planning application decisively, two to one. Since then Leominster has fought off four out of town superstore applications, while most recently Ross on Wye saw off plans for a vast out of town Tesco shed.
Now Herefordshire's last bit of unfinished business is complete. Bromyard's bitterly fought struggle against a large Tesco on the edge of the town centre is dead and buried. Our friends in the delightful market town up the road have just received an email from Tesco's Corporate Affairs manager Simon Petar:
"We're very grateful for the support we've received in the past for our plans. Shopping habits of customers have changed in recent years, with more people choosing to shop online and in convenience stores. In light of this, we have reviewed our proposals for Bromyard and have made the difficult decision to withdraw our application to Herefordshire County Council for a new store. We will continue to consider convenience stores in other locations in the area."
It's been a long hard battle, not just against the supermarket juggernauts, but a planning system that's stacked in favour of the developers and against embittered sections of the community who have been fooled into thinking that supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury's on their side. With the rise of Lidl and Aldi, support for the 'big four' with their rip-off prices and brutal supplier policies, is ebbing like a spring tide.