Tesco application for Westgate rejected by Thanet District Council Planning Committee.
This evening, at 7pm, Thanet District Council's Planning Committee, will make it's decision on whether to approve a Tesco Express in Westgate's Station Road. As regular readers will know, as a ward councillor, I was asked to represent the residents, businesses and traders objecting to the application and I will be permitted a short summary speech before the meeting starts.
With only forty places available for the public to watch the debate from the gallery, it's very much a 'first come and first served' basis because of the fire regulations. So to try and keep people informed, I'm publishing my short speech in advance - it may change slightly - and I will be using Twitter (@simonmoores) to keep my followers up-to-speed on the progress of the debate in real time. and you can also see my Twitter updates on the side bar of this weblog.
"Chair and members of the committee.
This evening, you will be making a decision with a possibly wide-reaching and historical implication for the unique town and conservation area of Westgate on Sea.
You have been lobbied with the letters and emails of many hundreds of residents and two separate petitions with signatures now into the thousands.
Its been a privilege working with such a polarised community and I wish to thank all those Westgate residents, from a broad range of skills and professions, who have worked so hard to study the legislation and its supporting national and local planning policy guidelines. Rather than make a long speech, I would like to leave you to your debate with six arguments, that I believe offer reasonable grounds to reject this application on planning grounds:
1. What determines this application is the Local Plan – Please don't be distracted by talk of The National Planning Policy Framework. (NPPF) This makes it is clear that current local plans apply.
2. This application does not comply with policies TC1 TC8. The need for new retail business must be explicitly shown and assessment of impact on local and district centres must be assessed. This has not been done and the application, by its own admission, is aimed at 'top up' shopping only. Where's the 'Need'?
3. Permission was given for 4 individual units. They complied with planning policies and general intentions which are for 'local stores' to be encouraged. This proposal is completely different. One large store. Calling it "TESCO Local" does not make it a 'local store'!
4. The building which blocks the morning light to the Sunny Side of the Street, markedly affects the Westgate Conservation Area. This was a planned design of Victorian shopping area with open and light filled areas. This building as you may have seen on the three-dimensional rendering from its plans, on my website, will form a 'tunnel effect', and 'build outs' will only enhance that. The size of this unit dominates and would completely change our street scene forever.
5. The design of the building is poor. It represents Tesco's standard 'house style' with pastiche 'add ons'. This cannot in any way be said to 'enhance' the street scene. The 'Canopy' element is a mockery. What will the Conservation Department of Thanet Council actually object to if it fails to object to this cheap PVC and plastic eyesore?
6. The traffic management plan is unreasonably optimistic as members will have witnessed during their site visit. It relies on the loading bay always being empty at 0700, delivery lorries parking within inches of the kerb, and (in practice) unenforceable restriction on non-articulated delivery vehicles only.
In summary then, this application does not, I believe, comply with the full policies TC1 (main town centres) or TC8 (district/local centres). It is misleading, misquotes the policies and compares the sleepy Victorian character of Westgate with central Manchester & Birmingham stores; completely unrealistic 'comparisons'. Can such an application even be trusted and I wonder if our Planning department even noticed?
Following our own Council Policy it is not ‘Unreasonable’ to reject an application with so many demonstrable flaws and which represents such a weight of public opposition. I would ask you to consider these and other powerful arguments and leave Westgate as its Victorian planners intended, freeing us of the shadow of a Tesco hanging over Station Road."