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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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..
- 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".
- 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".
- 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.
- 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