Friday, 13 April 2012

Before Tesco - Teme Bridge Congestion

HGV mounts pavement behind disability scooter.
(Click to enlarge picture).

The reworked Teme Bridge has certainly seen work undertaken, but it's now even narrower in places than in the past. Many in the town have seen HGV's mounting the pavements in the past to try and get around the bend in the bridge but here's another example [above] which happened recently despite 'improvements' to the bridge. Of concern in this example is the senior citizen in the disability scooter who is clearly unaware of the large HGV looming-up behind him while it tries to get around the bend in the bridge. Issues around congestion and safety of pedestrians on the structure have been voiced before and clearly aren't going away .

The bridge has always seen busier periods in the day - this image showing just one of these in a late morning on a weekday. Tenbury Futures have long raised concerns about the Teme bridge's ability to cope with the growing modern traffic numbers if faces and here is just one of many ongoing snarl-ups caught on camera.. It's worthwhile pointing out of course that all this is happening before either any works are carried-out on the town's cattle market site or increases brought on by subsequent store traffic.. 

We raised the spectre of "Massive additional congestion" on our past posters in the town if a supermarket was given the go-ahead.. The bridge is clearly suffering issues around both traffic and safety of pedestrians even before a supermarket build - were we right to raise concerns? 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tenbury Wells - Teme Bridge Letter

Please see below a copy of a letter sent to both Peter Blake, Head of Integrated Transport, Worcester County Council and the Shropshire County Council Bridge Section.

Dear Sir/Madam,
Teme Bridge Tenbury Wells
I write to express my concern at the treatment of the refurbished Teme Bridge, Tenbury Wells as suitable for unrestricted use in both directions simultaneously.
Department of Transport and SCC literature indicate that a normal two-way road should be at least 5.5m wide and that below this width a road should not normally have a centre line. Indeed, I understand that Worcs CC has specifically refused to provide a centre line elsewhere in response to more than one request from a parish council on the grounds that the road is less than 5.5m wide.

The Teme Bridge at the kink in the middle of the bridge appears to be 4.9m; in Shropshire just before the bridge proper, 4.8m - yet the bridge has a centre line.
The maximum permitted width of an HGV (excluding mirrors) is 2.6m if refrigerated, 2.55m if not. The maximum permitted width of a bus is 2.55m.

Therefore two full-size lorries (or buses) can only pass on the bridge (or on the approach) if at least one uses the pavement.
Given the above, would you please explain how this part of the A4112 can merit a centre line or indeed how it can even be considered a two-way road.

If you do consider the road to be suitable for two-way simultaneous use, would you please advise how you reconcile this with the clear safety (and legal) issues of one or more of two passing HGVs or buses having to mount the pavement.
You may not be aware, but at least three accidents occurred in the first 24 hours of the bridge being open again, in my view simply underlining the safety issue.

I look forward to your response; clearly time is of the essence if an injury or, worse, a fatality, is to be avoided.
Yours sincerely,

The Tenbury Futures Group.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tesco Decision: 100's Left Disappointed...

Listening to the roars of applause every time speakers or councillors mentioned anything against the Tesco plan last night, you'd expect it to have sent a clear message to the planning committee on local feelings. Sadly, after hours of often intricate debate, the plan was eventually accepted by a majority of committee members though [despite spirited arguments as well as votes by some of their number against the plan]. This came as a bitter disappointment to the many 100's of local, regional and national individuals who wrote to Malvern Hills DC to object to this plan. Naturally we feel down - but we're not out and our position is now as follows:

  1. We still feel passionately this result will see the inevitable loss of one of the few remaining small country town highstreets with a butchers, bakers, fishmongers, veg shop and all the other independent stores that once thrived throughout Britain.

  2. We are not convinced that Tesco’s suggested employment scenario will benefit the town and believe that more jobs will be lost than gained locally - in line with the British Retail Consortium’s own figures.

  3. We will be taking professional advice in the next few days on the possibility of judicial review, particularly in the light of Malvern Hills change of attitude in granting permission for a larger store with even less parking provision than the Tesco plan they previously rejected.

  4. The more appropriate solution for Tenbury would have been a smaller retail solution while creating parking and sensibly and sustainably re-using the town's distinctive heritage buildings in one of the town’s key tourist sites..

  5. The decision to accept the plans has now committed us to traffic chaos around the bridge end of the town. We'd hate to be in a situation in which we'd have to say "we told you so".

  6. Tesco's own development company rep Daffyd Williams has described the development in Tenbury as a "one stop shop" in which shoppers presumably park-up, shop and drive-off laden-down with Tesco goods. We can't see how this equates with other high profile Tesco claims that "the supermarket will encourage shoppers into our highstreet food shops".

  7. We will also be asking whether the Council has achieved best value in terms of the s.106 monies when compared with similar towns, such as Southam – and whether a failure here would make the decision taken at the committee invalid were judicial review to be sought.

  8. We would like to thank all our supporters for their help – for the letters they have written, for turning up to the planning committee (in which they made their preferences abundantly clear) and for wanting to do more than allow Tenbury to become another bland and soulless high street.

Now only time will tell what happens to the heart of the town in the orchard, Tenbury Wells.

Tenbury Futures, 8th March, 2012 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Tenbury's Last Chance...

Dear Planning Committee Members,

You have a critically important decision to make on
7th March.

Just over a year ago, after a long and careful discussion, your committee refused permission for a large supermarket to be built on the cattle market site in Tenbury. You have now been asked to change that decision: please, please don’t. There have been no real changes to the application and the decision should be the same – a refusal. 

To do otherwise, would be inconsistent and unjustified. We are very lucky to have a diverse and vital high street in Tenbury; but make no mistake, it is very fragile and would not survive the effects of a large supermarket being built in the town.

• The current bridge closure, a minor event in comparison, has cost traders up to 50% of their turnover during the closure.

Your own local plan says that we need only 18 sq M of additional food retail space – the application is for nearly 80 times that amount – far more than all of the current food retail space in Tenbury

The Council for the Protection of Rural England has concluded that “it will have a strong adverse impact on the traders in the town and duplicate services offered”.

In these difficult times jobs are precious and any jobs lost are difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

The British Retail Planning Forum, which is financed by the supermarkets themselves,
has found that every time a large supermarket opens, on average, 276 jobs are lost.

• These figures suggest that if the development goes ahead we will lose about 100 jobs in Tenbury – that is a net loss of about 100 jobs.

The development will have a catastrophic effect on the conservation area and the historical setting.

• This committee thought so last year and refused permission

The council’s own Conservation Officer describes it as a “large, single span, semi-
industrial building” that will “certainly impact upon the Conservation Area”.

English Heritage recommend that permission be refused

The Council for British Archaeology is against the development
The Civic Society has said, a “supermarket of this size ……. cannot be made to fit visually in a historic setting, particularly as this proposal requires the demolition of an important historic building”

The Victorian Society is against the demolition of the Old Infirmary and so against the development

Your own planning officers say that it would be “regrettable” to demolish the RBB
building for this development – avoid those regrets and refuse permission, we will never be able to get it back

There are many other concerns...

• There are many, very real concerns about safety on the roads and pavements around the development – there has been an accident on the site in the last few weeks involving a car and a supermarket lorry

• A recent traffic survey has shown that more than 1,600 traffic movements already take place between 5pm and 7pm at this end of Teme Street

• The development does not provide anything like enough parking – the proposal is well below the national minimum standards

• There is not even room for a trolley to be placed behind a shopper's car whilst the
shopping is being loaded into the car’s boot without impeding the traffic on the proposed access road

• There is no answer to how the bridge, a scheduled ancient monument, will cope with the extra traffic (estimated at up to 2,000 crossings per day by cars and many more by large delivery lorries) – when it fails to cope, as it frequently must, Tenbury will be regularly gridlocked

Have no doubt about the strength of feeling in and around Tenbury. There have been many hundreds of written objections and only a handful of letters in support of this unnecessary and damaging development.
And finally...
Tesco has no interest in or understanding of Tenbury as a place in its own right, and, it would seem, has little respect for our local authorities.

Please refuse permission for this wholly unnecessary development that would do so much damage, in so many ways, to Tenbury. Make no mistake, the damage would be permanent.

The future vitality of the town's highstreet is in your hands. It is your decision.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Llangollen Threatened by Tesco too..

Llangollen in Wales is also being threatened by Tesco's never-ending desire to grow their corporate mega-business and make more and more money from the demise of our small town highstreets and independent shops. 

Tesco are trying everything they can in every place they can.. Tenbury is just another notch on the bedpost as far as Tesco are concerned. If it doesn't happen in Tenbury then they'll try anywhere else they can and use anything within their power to try to make it happen using such standard excuses as "but it's what the people want" [when in Tenbury and surrounds many hundreds of people have said NO time after time to the plan via planning objections to MHDC].

Interestingly the video above starts with a hint at the very real discussions ongoing in the UK parliament about Tesco's ruthless expansion tactics. It's clearly something that's now on government agendas as well as how to keep our small town highstreets vibrant.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Tenbury Futures is Consulted by the Local Media

Photographer with locals opposed to Tesco's Old Infirmary bulldozing plans.

Ludlow & Tenbury Advertiser asked us for our perspectives on the latest developments with the town's cattle market site. Here's the full unabridged response from us below.

1. Can you briefly outline for our readers your vision for the former cattle market site.

We ran a community questionnaire in March 2011 in which over 300 local and regional people fed back their preferences and ideas for the town's cattle market site. As part of our questions people could indicate their preferences for its redevelopment - including saying whether they'd prefer a large supermarket there. Over 200 of those who replied stated very clearly that they wished the site to benefit the town with both sensitive and sustainable development that broadly benefitted the community. There was a very clear rejection however of the idea of of using the whole site for one large supermarket 

On the back of this we researched and developed an outline set of plans that would best encompass these findings - which resulted in our PLAN B document that we published/distributed in July 2011. This document provides proactive suggestions in relation to the town that could enhance community facilities, tourism draw, local jobs, parking and highstreet vitality to name but some areas. Shortly after publishing, PLAN B received positive initial support from regional and national funding organisations - notably the Big Lottery Fund which then featured in their 'The Local' - a magazine about proactive communities.

2. How will you convince the owner of the site to work with you rather than Tesco or another major retail outlet? 

This is a tough one, of that there's no doubt. If Tesco's latest application is turned down again then we'd like to start to talk to a range of parties who could come together to look at alternate development of the site. There has been interest in the site from other developers during the time Tesco's latest application has been considered by Malvern Hills. As such, we'd hope that we could help facilitate a blended re-development of the site that met with support from both the owner, funding organisations and potentially other developers who might consider a much more blended use of the site.

3. How will you realise your vision financially and are you planning to buy the land?

We are primarily looking to work with the current owners and interested parties. We would think it unlikely that we would be able to take on and fund the whole project on our own account.

4. What do you fear will happen to Tenbury if the Tesco plan goes ahead?

Our fears are multiple really.. In particular we fear it would heighten highstreet slowdown in an already challenging financial climate. and reduce employment, as large supermarkets have a far lower employment density than small shops.

Exacerbating highstreet slow-down and lessening footfall:
Most of us have seen the way that large supermarkets have affected other market towns such as Llandrindod Wells in which the shopkeepers are wondering why none of their number objected to Tesco's plans there that have contributed to their highstreet slow-down. The Rhyl Journal article "Traders hold crisis talks as Tesco hit sales" discusses this and one trader told our group:
"In the first 3 months they [Tesco] have devastated the local high street to the tune of a 35% to 64% downturn... They are actively targeting the local Boots store [35% to 40% down] and the local Co-Op [formerly Somerfield 65% down]. Most other retail businesses are experiencing between 15% and 30% decline... some 4 months after Tesco opening. The biggest problem has been the reduction in footfall, people are using Tesco as a one-stop shop and not walking or even driving into the old town centre..."
Further details can be found on this story in the Rhyll Journal article of 15th Oct 2010 “
Traders Hold Crisis Talks as Tesco Hits Sales”.
In addition, Tesco themselves say that over 60% of their shoppers will not go off into adjacent highstreets. Instead, it's more common to do a 'one stop shop' and get all shopping in one go. Once this shopping is in the car you're unlikely to leave it and go off down the high street. To further illustrate this you only need to to some basic research into adjacent highstreets and you'll find numerous references to businesses who simply can't compete with Tesco's corporate buying-power.
We have reduced the price of the shop. We are definitely selling up... It’s [the local Tesco] devastated us as a business... We go and sit in the Tesco car park and watch all the customers who used to come in to us go in and out of there all the time.”
Julia Moore owner for 20 years of Moore’s Grocers in Madeley, Telford.  From “Every little helps, "Telford shopkeeper to throw in the towel", Shropshire Star, 21st Mar 2011

Little or no impact on unemployment numbers
It's unlikely that such a large Tesco would affect the long-term unemployment numbers in the town either, a report in the Cambrian News in 2010 [1] stated that after looking into 6x towns that had new Tesco stores that:
The opening of supermarkets did not boost the labour market of any of the six towns sampled in terms of claimant count unemployment - despite hundreds of jobs being claimed to be created.”
Richard Stankiewicz of the Barnsley Council’s Spatial Analysis Team, Cambrian News, 3rd Mar, 2010.

Traffic Congestion
The area around the old Teme Bridge already suffers from congestion at specific times of the day. Additionally, most locals have witnessed large HGV's trying to pick their way across its unique bend while traffic backs-up. Despite recent ongoing works to strengthen the bridge it's simply not an effective traffic solution that will serve the Town well in any situation where the traffic is likely to increase. Instead, we're supporting the idea of a second [relief] bridge nearby downstream which could utilise the Cattle Market and bring people into the town there. For retailers and businesses on that site it could prove a real benefit while [via a managed one way system] relieving and helping future-proof traffic-flow to the town. Such a scheme could be looked into with contributions from the developer[s] via 's106 monies' as well as a pooling of both Shropshire and Worcestershire County Council's monies in this area. Without such a scheme, any development on the cattle market site -large or small- and subsequent potential traffic increases will probably exacerbate existing congestion causing more frustration and maybe even injury as desperate hauliers mount pavements to try to get through the bottleneck of the old Teme bridge.

5.  What do you say to those people living in Tenbury who have voiced their desire for a supermarket so they don’t have to drive to Leominster or Ludlow?

Locals seem to shop using multiple methods now with many combining a supermarket shop nearby with additional goods and foods from the town's highstreet. Additionally, some drive the 15 mins to Tesco or Aldi etc in Ludlow, some choose to drive over to Morrisons, Aldi etc in Leominster, some use Lidl at Stourport, others make use of the cheap online deliveries from Tesco etc. In addition, it's worth noting that the town already has three supermarkets already with Bowketts/Nisa, Spar and a Co-op within walkable distance of many in the town and Burford. So in essence we're well served anyway and many use existing supermarket deliveries. Add  to this that many work in outlying towns to Tenbury and who shop while there anyway and it’s not all that make special journeys to shop either.

6. What do you say to those who feel they can’t afford to shop entirely from independent retailers – how can Tenbury deliver an affordable weekly shop for them?

We would highlight again that there are shops locally who cater for a range of budgets, in addition, today's shoppers can [and very often do] make use of online shopping options and deliveries that are available to the town and surrounding area.

7.  Are you in contact with anti-Tesco campaigns in other parts of the county and do you see yourselves as part of a nationwide movement?

Yes, we're in contact with a number of other regional groups who oppose similar supermarket large developments. We're not sure whether you could say there's a 'national' movement as such but the campaigning website '' estimates that there are over 400 similar anti supermarket campaigns now active in the UK [interestingly, mainly relating to Tesco]. It's clear that many thousands of people nationwide are more and more concerned at the power large supermarket chains wield and the negative effects their unchecked growth has on our highstreets.

8. Is there any way you would be prepared to work with Tesco or another major developer on an outlet which you would find more acceptable?

We've already been approached by other developers in relation to the cattle market site. Our perspective has been the same with each in that we'd meet with and listen to their plans and then we'd put them to a vote of the Tenbury Futures mailing list members. If the majority were in support of the ideas then we'd ask for further discussions to see if we could lend our support. The present [Tesco] application for the site just aims to build a very large supermarket. Broadly if there are other developers whose plans tally more with the findings of our community questionnaire [i.e. blended developments including smaller retail, re-use of key historic buildings etc] then we would be keen to look to see if we could lend our support.

9. Why can’t Tesco work for Tenbury in the way it has for Ludlow?

Has it worked in Ludlow and if so then by what measure? The reason it is now where it is on Corve St is that there was a campaign by locals there too against it which lasted for many years. They too feared negative impacts on their highstreet shops and today's location was very much regarded as the lesser of a couple of evils.. It's a false argument though - the idea of ‘in town’ or ‘out of town’ - to us they're both bad for the highstreet. It's a little like asking "what would you prefer to be eaten by - a lion or a crocodile?". There are some who might suggest that Ludlow's Tesco has helped the town thrive but in reality the two towns are very, very different with Ludlow having a vastly different demographic population to Tenbury [Ludlow’s main housing estate alone has more people than the whole population of Tenbury]. Additionally Ludlow thrives due to clever marketing as a rural ‘foodie’ capital which brings in visitors, tourism and associated monies. Ludlow also has its cattle market which additionally brings in people, money and passing trade.. In short they're very different entities. To compound that there is evidence that trade is polarising towards the Tesco end of Ludlow now that there is a clutch of supermarkets there. The Shropshire Star ran an article:“Town Suffering as Trade Evaporates”, in which:

Margaret Edwards, of EJ Poyners in Broad Street, said: “... terrible now. The trade is just finished up this [non Tesco] end of the town.”  Thu 13th May, 2010.

10. Do you think an independent supermarket is more suited to Tenbury?
We do have an independent supermarket already in the town but have no overt preferences as a group. One of our aims is to promote [and if possible to help facilitate] the blended use of the town's cattle market site. We accept that additional retail will need to play a part in this process but we're asking that it should be appropriate, sensitive and sustainable. This combination has been achieved in other towns so why not Tenbury? We believe this message is clearly re-enforced for the third time by the 600+ individual planning objections from local and regional residents to the latest Tesco scheme filed with Malvern Hills' planners.

Tenbury Futures, Jan, 2012

Monday, 19 December 2011

Merry Christmas from the Tenbury Futures Team...

Just a quick mail to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Tenbury Futures team. We especially want to thank the many 100's of local and regional individuals who have joined us in objecting to Tesco's plans on the town's Cattle Market site.

Here's hoping too that 2012 will bring a set of solutions to the town's Cattle Market site that best serve a whole range of our local and regional communities. You can be assured that we'll still campaign for a blended development solution to the Cattle Market site as the majority vote [over 200 of the 300 returns] in our 'community questionnaire' concluded in early 2011. 

A quick reminder of some of our key findings:

The majority view from the questionnaire was
to re-use the Old Infirmary/RBB Building.
The majority vote was that survey participants didn't want
a solely large supermarket solution to the site.

Other local issues we're interested in...

We'll also still encourage debate around this and other related subjects such as the Teme Bridge, traffic and parking as the new year progresses. Even now there's a new idea that we support to add a single track bridge across the Teme discussed in the Christmas edition of the Teme Valley Times. In this new idea the old Teme Bridge is kept in use but only for one-way traffic exiting the town while a new single-track bridge near the Burford fire station acts as the main way 'in' to the town. 

[Click to enlarge this image]

The proposed new single lane bridge featured in the latest Teme Valley Times.

Once again, thanks to those many 100's of people for their support in our campaigns - it's all very much appreciated by us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - we hope that 2012 will be a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous year for the town.

The Tenbury Futures team

P.S. You can comment on this post by clicking the 'comments' link below or why not mail us on our e-mail: