Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tenbury Town Centre Shops Questionnaire

[Click graphic to enlarge]

There has been much discussion in the town about the merits of closing the Teme Bridge to traffic over the few weeks in which we've known about the plan. We thought we'd do a small questionnaire within the town's shops* to see what their opinions were about bridge closure and impending semi-closures due to potential public realm works. The majority results to the questions asked are shown above in the graphic.

[* 32 Shops polled, 2-3 shops didn't answer all questions].


1. Did the Council consult you before announcing that the bridge would close?
- The majority answer was that they felt they had not been effectively consulted before bridge closure was announced. A survey ascertaining the delivery needs of shops was done however after WCC had already announced they were to close the bridge.

2. Would the bridge closing affect your business?
- 100% said it would affect their business.

3. Rather than close the bridge, should they keep it open with a weight limit, while discussing future plans?
- Nearly 100% said that the bridge should be kept open albeit with a weight limit while the full range of options available was discussed with them.

4. [A] Should money be spent on strengthening the existing bridge so 44 tonne trucks can come through Tenbury, or [B] Should the money go towards a new bridge?
- The majority said that they would prefer the monies spent on the Teme Bridge to go towards a new bridge for the town.

5. Did the Council consult you before announcing that the pavements will be taken up?
- Nearly 100% said they had no consultation from the Council before this idea was announced.

6. If the pavements are to be taken up, and if the bridge is to close, should all the work be done at once?
- The majority felt that if various works were to be undertaken that these should be constrained so they worked together to cause minimum issues to Teme St traffic.

7. Do you support the loss of on street parking as part of the public realm works?
- Nearly 100% were not in favour of on street parking being removed from Teme St as part of any public realm scheme.


There seems to be some pretty conclusive majorities of opinion demonstrated here. As such we believe that the Worcester County Council need to disclose and explain publicly:

1. What their exact figures, plans and timescales are for the Teme Bridge refurbishment scheme.

2. Explain exactly why alternatives to complete closure can't be actioned during any works. For example weight limits [as with the 'A' Road and bridge at Holt over the R.Severn] or traffic lights. 

3. Fully explain why the combination of the monies set aside for both the public realm works in the town and the existing Teme Bridge refurbishment [which must amount to many millions of pounds] couldn't be better employed in the construction of a new, more efficient Teme Bridge that would help ensure the future viability of the town.


Tenbury Futures’ sole objective is to help to ensure that Tenbury has a sustainable and vibrant future as a unique town in which people want to live and visit.

The group is made up of supporters of a range of ages, from parents with young children, to the retired, and from many walks of life.  We share a love of Tenbury and came together out of concern for a town that we value for its diversity and liveliness.   Our primary aim is to make sure that all options for the careful and sustainable development of the Cattle Market site are considered by providing a voice for local people.

We deliberately do not have leaders, spokesmen, committees, etc.  We are not developers, civil engineers or surveyors, nor, as some have assumed, are we fronting the local traders.  Like the traders, however, we are interested in the viability and success of Tenbury.  A vibrant town will bring in more visitors, enable more activities and businesses to thrive, and benefit everyone.

What is our purpose?
We have no fixed agenda of our own; instead our aim is to invite, collate and publicise options for the Cattle Market site by gathering together ideas from the people who should have the greatest say in these matters – the people of Tenbury. 

Our own influences are widespread, which tallies with our broad draw from the local community. Our supporters have interests in the idea of transition towns which can help rejuvenate town centres,  green technology and greening business, increasing tourism, highlighting and supporting the heritage of the town, and many, many others.

Where do our ideas come from?
To avoid possible 'nimbyism' we began in March 2011 by asking anyone and everyone in the town to let us know what they thought should happen to the site, making a feedback questionnaire available to everyone and allowing all opinions to be expressed. 

The outcome of that survey was a very clear desire in our respondents, who were overwhelmingly local, for the Cattle Market site to be developed in a sustainable and blended manner that would benefit our local community. The ballot was held fairly, transparently and accountably, and the results were displayed in town and on our website, where they are still available for all to see.  All of the returns were copied and sent in full to both Tenbury Town Council and Malvern Hills District Council.

We have taken those ideas and explored and illustrated them.  We have looked for precedents in other places, feasibility in Tenbury, and ways in which they might be funded.  As always, the illustrations and ideas were displayed in town, and are available to see on our website.

The variety of ideas we received was both fascinating and encouraging.  The overwhelming message is that Tenbury people value and care about their town and are prepared to devote time, thought and imagination to developing it in the best way possible.

Those who support a Tesco in the town have yet to canvas opinion - indeed, Tesco themselves have provided absolutely no verifiable evidence of their claim that there is a demand for their store in Tenbury.  Our feedback forms allowed and encouraged the expression of all ideas, and showed that about 11% of respondents were in favour of a supermarket of some sort (including much more modest proposals), while around 75% were strongly opposed to such a plan.

The new bridge concept is one of a number of ideas sent to us by concerned locals and our role has been to highlight this and other ideas locally via whatever means we could muster.  Despite some local pessimism, the concept is sufficiently viable to have received consideration at local authority level, indeed the costings are based directly on Herefordshire Council's and those of their bridge construction specialist, Halcrow.  No local body or council has admitted to the full repair costs of the current bridge, and it may well be that these are so great (and English Heritage's views on the resulting effects on a Scheduled Ancient Monument so strong) that the new bridge idea becomes a viable proposition.

Our Dearest Wish
Our dearest wish is to see Tenbury kept vibrant and independent and to show that, contrary to the words of one of MHDC's district councillors, there is indeed a considered 'Plan B' for the site.  Tenbury can do far better than allowing a Tesco supermarket to be built on the cattle market site.  Tenbury is worth the effort.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Please Object to The Latest Tesco Supermarket Plan


Closures of highstreet shops and businesses & overall loss of local jobs*. [* National Retailer Planning Forum [NRPF] 1998 study].

• Massive increases in local traffic congestion in the highstreet & on the old Teme bridge. Over 2000 additional journeys per day (with HGV deliveries to store and potential home van deliveries on top of this number)**. [** Based on Tesco’s latest published retail and traffic figures].

• Parking chaos as present town parking levels are reduced & existing Teme St parking is removed by Tesco***. [*** 150 parking spaces required for a development of this size, Tesco claim they will put in 100 spaces which is already well short of the required number, then they wish to remove Spar's parking spaces off Teme St. This results in less than 100 spaces associated with the development].


Want to object against the new Tesco application but don’t understand all the planning criteria and wording? If ‘yes’ then get our pre-formatted objection letter for free:

You can then change it and add your own additional comments or just print, add your address to it.

Which you can download and print/sign if you'd prefer.

• Letter Return by Post to:

Ms R Kirby

Planning Services
Malvern Hills District Council
Council House
Avenue Road
Worcs WR14 3AF


Letter Return in Tenbury: Please drop your signed and addressed letter back into one of the following shops in Tenbury:

Bowketts, Spar, or the Little Sweetshop


2. Pick Up a Pre-Printed Letter. Alternatively, you can pick up a pre-printed letter from one of the following shops in Tenbury:

Bowketts, Spar, or the Little Sweetshop

3. Sign & Address It. All you then need do is sign and address your letter [you can add to the MS Word file if you wish to before printing out].

4. Letter Drop Off. Then just drop off your signed and addressed objection letter into one of the shops mentioned [above] by 12 Midday Mon 5th September.

5. We’ll do the rest!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

New Tesco Superstore Planning Documents Now 'Live' For Scrutiny

To alert you to the fact that the latest application by Tesco to build a superstore on the cattle market site in Tenbury is now 'live' online for your scrutiny. The store is an 'A1' class superstore - which means that it could easily include [or add at a future date without great issue] a pharmacy, post office and hardware/homewares on top of the large range of discounted food goods it will stock. This of course could potentially affect a large percentage of the remaining embattled shops in the town instead of just the food shops which we feared on the last application. If you wish to look available documents over then you can do so by undertaking the following:

1. Firstly go online and copy-in the following address to your browser:

This should take you to Malvern's Planning Application seach page.

2. The tap in the following reference for the new application in the 'Application Number' box: 11/00887/FUL

This is defined as: "Erection of Class A1 Food Store, Associated Car Parking, Open Space and Landscaping and Access Improvement Works" [They will have to apply separately again to try to demolish the Old Infirmary Building - which we'd expect at the 11th hour so that as few people could digest it and offer-up objections as possible].

This should then display a page titled: "Planning Application Summary", to look through documentation look on the left hand side of the page where you should see a set of blue links to follow-up/review.

3. These documents are also available at Tenbury Library for review as hardcopies too (where you can take photocopies for more in depth scrutiny if you wish). When we spoke with the duty planner there today she assured us that as she was posting the 'Planning Application' signs around and near the site today and that this will allow the required 21 days from today's date [16th August] for individuals and organisations to formally object in writing or e-mails to them. The likelyhood though as this is such a massive development that the process will be open more like 13 weeks.

4. Objection Letter Pro Formas
We're presently pouring through the documents ourselves in order that we get a full picture of the new application. In the first instance we'd encourage individuals to write to MHDC's planners themselves explaining their concerns and objections. We must be clear though in that only letters dealing with planning-related issues will be taken forward to formal objections [i.e. emotive or passionate requests that Tenbury be left alone will not be counted as a formal 'planning objection' (although we'd understand the temptation).

If this all seems a bit of a minefield of documents and forms then we'll soon upload a pro-forma objection letter addressing the salient concerns on the Tenbury Futures blog site [and we'll alert you that we've done so] that you can simply just print, sign and send or drop in to a local highstreet shop. This proved a very effective method of getting a large number [apparently over 800 people locally] to object formally in writing which had a very definite sway from such a small community on the last occasion.

5. And Finally
There is much discussion in the town about this potential Tesco taking over from Tesco's home delivery van operation that currently operates out of the Ludlow store. This may account for the fact that the proposed new Tenbury store [pop 3,500] is even bigger than the last. Needless to say, if this happens then the additional strain on town and bridge traffic would be tremendous on top of that we already forcast.

Tesco's are more than happy to change the use of their stores once they've been built and indeed did just that at Tetbury in the Cotswolds. They'd sold their plan to the town as creating a large number of shop floor retail jobs. Within months of opening though the Tetbury store closed much of it's floorspace and turned the rest over to warehousing which supported it's Tesco Home online catalog business. The consequence of course was that less staff were required on site and the staff were thinned-down to a small fraction of the original number with most of the remainder put on to short term or part time contracts. It does make one look at the new site's massive floorspace in an entirely new way..

You may like to follow-up these references too if you're keen to learn a little more about the company who wishes to parachute in a superstore in the town [these just a sample - there are many, many more out there]:

Monday, 8 August 2011

In Response to Worcestershire County Council - Tenbury Bridge Refurbishment

View 01

View 02

Proposed New Bridge - Views:
[Click each to enlarge]

Clr Pollock and WCC have issued a statement that responds to Tenbury Futures' suggestions for an additional new, modern alternate bridge which would help secure the town's vitality well into the future... Having given consideration to this our response as a group reads as follows:

Much speculation is developing about the prospect for a new second bridge for Tenbury, apparently to save a million pounds expenditure on restoring the existing bridge. However, there are a number of key considerations that bring a reality to the approach being proposed by the County Council.

The key reason for a new bridge is simply that Tenbury needs a bridge that is fit for 21st Century conditions; a bridge that is wide enough and straight enough for today's traffic, allowing two trucks to pass without driving on the pavement, causing traffic chaos and endangering pedestrians. A second bridge would obviate the need to strengthen the existing bridge, avoid needless interference with a Scheduled Ancient Monument and allow some funds to be transferred to the new bridge programme - although this saving is not the key factor.

Worcestershire County Council as custodian of a Scheduled Monument is obliged to keep the structure in good order and along with other structures included Teme Bridge in the five year major maintenance programme of strategic river crossings which will be drawing to a close next year.

It is one thing '"to keep the structure in good order", it is a different matter to alter a Scheduled Ancient Monument so that thousands of heavy lorries can pour across it each year.

Furthermore, as Highway Authority the County Council is bound by the national code of practice for the management of highway structures and compliance therewith ensures that important infrastructure remains available and safe to use.

Tenbury Futures has never proposed that highway infrastructure should be unavailable or unsafe. It is the Council that is proposing to make the bridge unavailable while strengthening it for 44 tonne trucks – and it is the Council that is proposing removing one of the footways, forcing pedestrians to cross moving traffic. Proposals for a new bridge will ensure that the County Council abide by the national code of practice – as opposed to making do with the current bridge where the safety of pedestrians is endangered.

County Councillor Ken Pollock – Local Member for Tenbury said; "Refurbishing the existing bridge is not only an obligation, in terms of both heritage and good housekeeping, but is also the most cost effective and will give the best return on expenditure in these difficult financial times"

Can Cllr Pollock provide evidence that the Council's plan is, overall, the most cost-effective? How much trade would Tenbury lose while the bridge is closed? Driving round the diversion routes would add a substantial mileage and every mile costs money. What is the Council's proposed total cost to people and businesses affected by the closure: not just loss of business and extra mileage, but also including a reasonable allowance for the extra time and extra accidents?

Knightwick and Stanford Bridges, both of which have been bypassed were literally single lane roads. Engineers are looking to ease the pinch-point at Tenbury as part of the refurbishment which will improve traffic flows."

For large trucks the Teme Bridge is effectively a single lane road. When two large trucks pass, one or both drives on the pavement. This is unsafe and unacceptable. If the Council is improving traffic flows elsewhere in Tenbury, a new bridge will become even more appropriate.

The concern about the proposed temporary closure of the existing bridge to vehicular traffic at the start of 2012 and the effect that this might have on the businesses in the town is recognised by the County Council who are working hard to put measures in place to keep the town as vibrant as it can throughout the essential works. There will always be access for disability scooters, pedestrians, and cyclists throughout the works.

We do not believe that it will be possible to keep Tenbury vibrant while Teme Bridge is closed. Will the Council please provide details of the measures it will introduce to keep the town vibrant – and the costs involved (for use in comparing the overall costs of building a new bridge against repairing the old one).

Richard Attwood – Worcestershire's Engineering Project Manager said; "We are working hard to ensure that the essential repairs to the bridge are undertaken in the most efficient way possible to reduce the impact on the town. The invasive structural investigations undertaken in May this year have provided valuable data from the fabric of the bridge which is being used to design the refurbishment.

The bridge works are not mere "essential repairs". The works are partly to strengthen the bridge, to make it able to bear 44 tonne trucks on an ongoing basis. We do not think 44 tonne trucks should be encouraged to drive over a Scheduled Ancient Monument – and we note that no reference of the views of English Heritage on the matter have been sought by the Council.

The costs of providing a second bridge need to be put into perspective and refurbishment costs will pale into relative insignificance when the cost of a new construction over a river enjoying SSSI [Site of Special Scientific Interest] status and land purchase costs are taken into account.

The costs of a new bridge do need to be put in perspective; that is to say, they need to be compared to other major capital projects in Worcestershire. A new bridge would cost more than the planned work on Teme Bridge, but a 'solution' should not be selected simply because it is the cheapest. The Council's plan would not provide Tenbury with a bridge that is fit for today's traffic; Futures' plan would. As Mr Attwood knows, our cost investigation specifically used the example of a recently-constructed bridge across a river that is an SSSI. Mr Attwood has been provided with the costs of a comparable bridge; we challenge him to disclose the overall costs of the proposed work on the existing bridge so that the public can decide which is the cheaper option overall.

The diagrammatic plan accompanying the Tenbury Futures proposals is simply that and it is unlikely that highway standards could be achieved without the demolition of at least one building to provide an acceptable junction with Teme Street.

The launderette is not shown on the visualisation because the proposal allows for its demolition, providing an easy turn and wide clearance, for traffic to flow from the existing Teme Street onto the link route to the new bridge. We are concerned that Mr Attwood may have dismissed the details of the proposal without even understanding it.

The cost of the bridge and the approaches will run into several millions of pounds.

Mr Attwood needs to provide details of the costs of the current proposals for the existing bridge, the measures being taken to support the town during its closure, the costs to businesses in the town and the costs to residents and visitors in terms of additional travel time and costs. He also needs to quantify the costs for the communities on the proposed alternative routes during the closure – and the costs of resulting road repairs to those routes – including routes paid for by other Councils. Overall we believe that a new bridge is a relatively cheap scheme with huge benefits. The cost has been considered and detailed; details of how the money can be found from within the budgets of both the County Councils affected, as well as the District Council, will be released in due course.

The final consideration is whether the County Council can justify adding a further bridge to its structural maintenance obligations for years to come."

Maintaining a medieval bridge in modern traffic conditions is costly; adding one purpose-built may actually reduce the overall future maintenance obligations – not increase them. Again, Mr Attwood needs to provide the figures so that Council Tax payers can judge his statement here on the basis of facts.

It is the Council's duty to provide a highways network that is fit for the 21st century. The Council cannot shirk its responsibilities simply by claiming that meeting them costs money – particularly when they have provided no support for that claim. There have been many major investments elsewhere in the County and it is time that the Council invested in Tenbury.