Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tesco plan to double Stalham store

Supermarket giant Tesco is seeking to double the size of its Stalham store so it can compete better with neighbouring supermarkets. The move comes just days after the company's bid to build a new store at Sheringham was rejected by a planning inspector. But Tesco was quick to stress that the Stalham scheme was not linked to the defeat - and that the Sheringham refusal, on the grounds a new 1,500 sq m store would permanently damage the town centre - was not relevant. Spokesman Nick Gellatly said: “The inspector's decision confirms that she visited other town centres including Stalham and found that they had different characteristics and thus the circumstances were not comparable”. Tesco built its current 1,300 sq m store six years ago with 189 parking spaces. Now it wants to nearly double the store and provide 362 spaces. The company said its original scheme was based on the size flagged up in a council design brief, but that “the proof of the pudding” in trading had shown it was not big enough in size or the range of goods to meet customers' needs. It needed to be more like the North Walsham Sainsbury store in size. There was a huge outcry over the original Tesco scheme, and opponents have claimed it killed off high street shops. But the company argued that the closures were down to a decline in the town caused by the death of its cattle market, and that the Tesco was actually helping it recover. Eric Lindo, chairman of the area's regeneration group, the Stalham with Happing Partnership, agreed, saying the store had already brought 85 jobs to the town and was its biggest employer, while demand for town centre shops was the highest in years. There were still opponents, but he felt the expansion would bring benefits including road and landscaping improvements. Tesco's extension using the old abattoir land which they bought several years ago will mean relocating the access road to the store and town centre, to include a roundabout on the A149, improving safety. Mr Gellatly said the latest plans, which followed a similar scheme floated two years ago, had now addressed issues such as the road junction. Before submitting such a major planning application this autumn Tesco has to consult the community, and will be staging an exhibition in the Baptist Church Hall, Lower High Street, on September 26 and 27 - from 2.30-6 on the Friday and 10-2 on the Saturday. Town council chairman Tony Ross-Benham said Stalham had come to terms with the current-sized Tesco, but it remained to be seen what people would think of it doubling.Shops had changed in the centre, but because of a variety of reasons. The high street now seemed to be “mostly let and ticking over.”But some shopkeepers would doubtless be concerned about what other goods the expanded store would sell.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Budgens join Tesco supermarket fray

The battle to build a supermarket in Sheringham is back on. With Tesco still licking its wounds after Monday's unexpected announcement that it had lost its planning appeal a local businessman has thrown down the gauntlet and said he is ready and willing to build the supermarket that people want to see in Sheringham. Last night Paul Burnell, who with business partner Jinx Hundal, runs the current small Budgens store in the town, upped the ante in the 13-year saga saying he was best placed to build a supermarket that would complement and not threaten the vibrancy and distinctive nature of the market town. He said: “We want to work with the chamber of trade and the council to find a good solution for a new store and we do want to be that store.“Budgens has a good record in north Norfolk and we work well with the local community.“We do not want to compete with other retailers - we want to work alongside them.”The pledge has been welcomed by the Sheringham Chamber of Trade. Chairman Janet Farrow said: “We would be willing to work alongside absolutely anybody who comes forward to make that happen for the benefit of Sheringham and all its residents.” Yesterday Tesco bosses were giving little away and refused to say whether they would press ahead with their long-held ambition of bringing the brand, which currently has 1,252 stores across the UK, to Sheringham. Nick Gellatly, corporate affairs manager, said the company was disappointed at the decision and was currently taking legal advice.He said: “We cannot rule anything in and equally we cannot rule anything out.“I suppose a question we would ask is would a smaller store achieve what people in Sheringham want in terms of providing a full range of groceries?” The supermarket giant has been left with three options - pull out, take its battle to build a store with 1,500sqm of trading space to the Court of Appeal and challenge the planning inspectorate's decision or work with local people to develop a smaller store of 750sqm that they find acceptable. A major question facing any new supermarket bid would be where to site the store. Tesco could still try and build on the land it has proposed at Cromer Road, in which case North Norfolk District Council would still benefit from a £1.2m cash windfall from the sale of the Lockerbie Flats to the company. Alternatively NNDC may change a previous decision and decide to sell its lion's share of the Station Road car park in the town centre for development. In 2003 Budgens was granted planning permission to build a new store on the car park but the plan fell flat after both NNDC and the North Norfolk Railway, which owns the other portion of land needed, refused to sell.Last night a spokesman for NNDC said it was taking legal advice to understand the implications of the land deal. However, the planning inspector's report did highlight problems with the car park site. The inspector said: “I do not consider that the Station Road site is a practical alternative to the appeal site within the foreseeable future.”

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

BBC news clip

You can watch the BBC news article on the Sheringham Tesco appeal decision by clicking here.

Tesco fails in resort store bid

Plans for a new supermarket in a Norfolk holiday resort have been rejected.
A public inquiry was held into Tesco's plans for Sheringham after the firm appealed against rejection by North Norfolk District Council.
Opposition groups said the 16,000 sq ft (1,500 sq m) shop would damage the area by forcing existing shops to close. The inquiry concluded benefits created by the shop would be outweighed by damage to the resort's character.
Planning inspector Christina Downes dismissed Tesco's appeal saying there would be harm to "the vitality, viability and retail function of Sheringham town centre and likely detrimental impact on future investment".
The ruling follows a 10-day planning inquiry held over three weeks in July.
A Tesco spokesman told BBC News: "We need to take some time to consider the inspectors report before we reach a decision on a response to it. But I think it's important to note when you look around the country, and see where there is a Tesco store. In very many cases in towns like Sheringham up and down the country, bringing a new store to a town not only brings jobs, not only brings a great shopping experience for customers but it also helps to add to the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre."
Virginia Gay, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: "This is a marvellous result, not only for the team at North Norfolk District Council who worked so hard to make and state our case, but also to those councillors and local objectors who have said clearly and compellingly that this was not an appropriate development."

Campaigners halt the march of Tesco

The relentless march of Tesco in Britain's market town high streets was stopped in its tracks last night - by Norfolk people power. A government inspector said the supermarket giant would not be allowed to build a 1,500 sq m superstore in Sheringham because it would harm the "vitality and viability" of the town, which prides itself on its range of independent traders. Many feared they would be forced out of business if Tesco had won its 13-year battle to establish a supermarket in the town. Campaigners and politicians said the victory would reverberate around the country and help other communities battling the power of Tesco and the other big chains. The Sheringham Tesco saga began in the mid 1990s when the company showed interest in building a store on the old Hilbre School site on Holway Road.Yesterday's ruling is one of only a handful of unsuccessful appeals launched by the supermarket giant, which operates 1,252 stores across the UK as well as offering personal finance and insurance services. Its bosses were clearly shocked at the defeat, saying they needed to "take some time to consider the inspector's report". During the appeal, Tesco had argued that its store would stop people heading out of Sheringham to do their weekly shop and would bring more spin-off trade to the town centre. Last night, Nigel Dowdney, independent store owner in Stalham and Earlham and a member of the Association of Convenience Stores, said concerns about damage to competition were often discussed but not given enough weight by the government. He said: "There is a feeling the government is changing the goalposts slowly but surely and this decision is a major step forward for communities and a major setback for Tesco." The planning inspectorate is finally beginning to stop, listen and look at the evidence."It is a proven fact, the building of a supermarket has a detrimental effect on all sorts of local businesses, not just food stores."North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: "I think it will send shockwaves through the planning system nationally as well as locally."There's an assumption that Tesco will always win. But here they haven't."Helen Rimmer, for anti-Tesco campaign group Tescopoly and Friends of the Earth, described the inspector's report as "a landmark ruling"."It's very rare for Tesco to lose an appeal and the Sheringham fight has been such a high-profile case that the decision is of national importance," she said."It shows Tesco cannot bulldoze the rights and wishes of local communities."Sheringham campaigner Richard Hewitt, a town councillor and planning solicitor, felt the Sheringham decision would be "noted nationally".Janet Farrow, chairman of Sheringham Chamber of Trade, said: "What has come out of this is that councils and the government have got to listen more closely to public opinion."The message that has to go out is that residents need to have their feelings taken on board."Big companies do have a lot of power and sometimes seem to be able to get round planning regulations, but I believe that people see results like ours and think they can win their fight too."In her 44-point summary, inspector Christina Downes said that while the store would have some benefits for the town, they were outweighed by irreparable damage it could do to existing traders and the character of the lively resort.She concluded: "The harm that I have identified to the vitality, viability and retail function of Sheringham town centre and the likely detrimental impact on future investment is of overriding importance."While a well-located food store of the right size in the right place would be of undoubted benefit, this proposal is likely to irreparably diminish the attractiveness and quality of the tourist and market town." Tesco argued its planned store on the Cromer Road would stop people driving to do their weekly shopping in other towns and would generate spin-off business for Sheringham.Tesco corporate affairs manager Nick Gellatly said: "We are disappointed by this decision. We will take some time to consider the inspector's report before we reach a decision on our response to it."Pam Blyth, who heads a Pro-Tesc support group in the town, said: "It's a shame, but that's her ruling and it's a democracy at work, so we accept the decision."

David beats Goliath in Tesco battle

In a master of understatement, you could say it was a victory which has not come easily.How does David take on Goliath and win?Well, the first thing that David - in this case, a concoction of council and campaigner - has to do is accept he is in for a long haul.As well as elation, there was palpable shock both in Sheringham and within national campaigning groups yesterday as they digested the news that Tesco had been cut down at the hands of a government planning inspector.That shock was clear evidence of the relief that 13 years of campaigning had finally paid off and surprise that the apparently unbeatable giant that is Tesco had, indeed, been beaten.Although there are no guarantees the war is over, the fact a government inspector has made such a clear and strongly-worded ruling puts the campaigners in the best position they have ever been in. The next stage of the process would be a Court of Appeal action - and last night it was unclear whether this was a route, and a new set of headlines, Tesco would want to pursue. It is a decision which will need careful thought at the highest level of Tesco's executive. The implications would be manifold.There are three parties who put in the most work to achieve yesterday's victory. The Sheringham Chamber of Trade, the Sheringham Campaign Against Mass Retail Overdevelopment (Scamrod) and North Norfolk District Council.There will be differing versions of who worked hardest, with Pro-Tesc campaigner Pam Blyth aiming her congratulations firmly at the chamber of trade, leading small-store campaigner Nigel Dowdney saying the council needed to be “patted on the back” and the council itself congratulating everyone involved, while council leader Virginia Gay added that for some fellow members: “It will cast a particularly glowing light on their time as a councillor.”With the inspector's words about how the planned Tesco could lead to “far-reaching decline” in Sheringham ringing in her ears, Eroica Mildmay, from Scamrod, was anything but understated.“This makes 13 years of my life worthwhile,” she said.“It was hard work but the work was put in and we managed to get it.“It took us four months working four hours a day to make our submission to the appeal.“We had to go though all the legislation and get everything we could throw at them. We did all that work with the faith that this was wrong.”Janet Farrow, chairman of Sheringham Chamber of Trade, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that all the work we have done over the last few years has made a difference.“We just now have to wait and see what Tesco will do and hope we can go forward and find something suitable for Sheringham.“We have never been anti-Tesco, we were always just anti this planning application.“If they want to come back with a store that is sensible for Sheringham, then we will work with them.”And Sheringham councillor Hilary Nelson, amid cheers, applause and the banging of tables from fellow councillors, said: “I'm so excited I could almost burst into tears.“It is brilliant news and just think what it is going to do for tourism and Sheringham's reputation.”The three-week inspector's hearing held at the council's head office in Cromer back in July may have been undeniably dry other than one evening meeting in Sheringham itself, but the reaction yesterday and in the coming days will not be.There are still those who want to see a new supermarket in Sheringham and the likelihood of that happening has not disappeared with the planning inspector's report. But what looks likely now is if there is to be a successful new planning application, it will have to be for a far smaller store.Either that or a visit to the Court of Appeal will come to the fore - and the long, sorry and expensive saga that has already been played out for more than a decade will continue.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tesco lose Appeal

The Planning Inspector has issued her decision on whether to uphold the appeal by Tesco against refusal to allow a superstore to be built in Sheringham.

You can read the full result here - Appeal Decision

The key point is shown below -

"Far from strengthening Sheringham’s retail offer and performing an anchor role the size and location of the proposed food store would be likely to result in significant harm to the health of the centre, for the reasons I have given. I therefore conclude that the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the retail function, vitality and viability of Sheringham town centre. This would be contrary to development plan policy including saved Policy 84 in the LP. It would also conflict with Policy EC 5 in the emerging CS and PPS 6."

She did not accept that traffic or design were reasons for dismissing the appeal.