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.