Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tesco Won't Take No for an Answer in Westgate

The heavy thunderstorm warnings for this afternoon have me firmly grounded today and I feel sorry for all those people making the trip to Dunsfold aerodrome, where I was yesterday, hoping to see the line-up of air-displays scheduled for this afternoon. The cloud base is somewhat reminiscent of Manston's event earlier this summer but without the strong wind.

In my post this morning, notification that Tesco are appealing Thanet District Council's Planning Committee's refusal of an application to build a store in Westgate's Station Road.

Most readers will be intimately familiar with the local campaign, earlier in the year, which mobilised so much public support against the company but clearly, Tesco are not taking "No" from our community for an answer and are appealing to the Planning Inspectorate. The case reference is APP/Z2260/A/13/2201906.

So what to do next?

I was only notified this morning and already have been in contact with my local conservation colleagues. We have until 23rd September to make representations to the Planning Inspectorate on the reasons why we firmly believe the decision of Thanet Council's Planning Committee should be upheld; local democratic opinion through petition aside.

What can you do to help should you wish to lend your weight towards challenging Tesco's efforts to resurrect a two storey retail unit, (A1) next-door to the footbridge in Station Road. (Former Goods Yard).

You can write to the Planning Inspectorate at 3/10a, Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN.

In your letter ( three copies required) you may wish to include some or all of the the following points but remember that it being a Tesco is irrelevant. The appeals office only see a retail unit for planning purposes.

"As a resident of Westgate-on Sea, I wish to object to the application for a retail unit,APP/Z2260/A/13/2201906 in Station Road, previously refused by Thanet District Council.

My reasons for an objection are that the unit markedly affects the Westgate Conservation Area. This was a planned design of Victorian shopping area and this design, as properly refused by the Planning Committee, would both dominate and change our unique heritage street scene forever.

Original approval was given for four individual units. They complied with Thanet's planning policies and general intentions which are for 'local stores' to be encouraged. This existing proposal as rejected by members of the Planning Committee, is completely different. One large retail unit. Calling itself "TESCO Local" does not make it a 'local store'!

The traffic management plan is unreasonably optimistic and presents a hazard to pedestrians. 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.

The application does not, as identified by the Planning Committee of Thanet District Council, comply with Thanet's full policies TC1 (main town centres) or TC8 (district/local centres). The development would have a detrimental impact on our fragile local economy and surrounding local stores and the applicant has failed to prove a 'Need' for such a store required in our local policies TC1 and TC8.

Please support the weight of local public opinon which generated over two thousand signatures on a petition and the decision of our Council Planning Committee and reject this appeal from Tesco.

Please note everyone that should you wish to write to the Planning Inspectorate, this should be in your own words. You can reference the objections I have raised here but identical letters will likely be rejected.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic news, a decent supermarket in Westgate at last!

Anonymous said...

I really don't see what people's concerns are here. If the vast majority of Westgate are truly against it, then why don't they just vote with their money and continue to shop elsewhere? With another Tesco just down the road in Westbrook it's not as if it's going to attract custom from outside the town.

Simon Moores said...

Once again people fail to notice the commercial development precedent on the south side of Station Rd if a Tesco goes in there.

You either have Westgate's conservation area protected, together with its unique, history, plan and character or you throw it all out of the window and it becomes like any other town.

This is what people are fighting to protect.

Michael Child said...

Simon with these – for want of a better phrase “hostile planning applications” can they go on reapplying and appealing indefinitely, or is there some point where thy can’t apply again? I ask this as the impetus seems to be going out of fighting some of the Ramsgate ones that I have been involved in.

Anonymous said...

Extraordinary comments above. First, a Tesco in Westgate is not going to offer the vast array of products and competitive prices that the superstore in Westwood Cross does - just go in to any of the local stores like Westbrook to see that there is not much difference between Co-op and Tesco at the local level.
Second, people voting with their feet would be too late to prevent Tesco despoiling the quaint and unique nature of the Westgate shopping environment.

Anonymous said...

If this was totally true then I'd agree Simon, but it seems that this is just an excuse rather than a reality. Otherwise we'd make sure that certain stores didn't build cheap plastic sheltering, and you've already said yourself that you can't see anyone wanting to bring the trees back.

On a slightly different note, didn't there also used to be a few shops on the other side of the railway line? Looking at the shoddy conversions it seems there was.

Simon Moores said...

I think that most, if not all of the questions about Tesco, its application and any consequences, have been answered in all of the earlier reports on the subject and if you type "Tesco" into the blog search box you can run through them at your leisure and revisit them.

If I'm honest, I'm in a constant battle as a local ward councillor, in attempting to defend Westgate from bad planning applications, PVC, (the latest being Paydens appeal) or those businesses who believe they have some God-given right to erect advertising wherever they might wish in the town without planning permission or any care or concern for local opinion.

This is a constant battle to prevent people covering Westgate in concrete, plastic or fluorescent business signs.

It's called "Planning" for a reason. I was bought-up here and plan to die here - my wife refuses to move house ever again!

I would like people to love the town as I do and years from now still find it a loved town with its unique heritage and community spirit intact.

Anonymous said...

I presume that I can also use that link to declare my support for the acceptance of a retail unit.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Of course you can 7:39, we live in a democracy and those that shout loudest win the day!

Anonymous said...

True Conservatives believe in a Free Market. Its about choice. To listen to you Dr Moores, one could be forgiven for thinking that you are a socialist. As Maggie said " let people vote with their feet"

Simon Moores said...

In fact this has very little to do with democracy and rather more to do with planning, conservation and our local heritage. People can of course express their opinions as they see fit

Anonymous said...

So if Tesco wanted to build a similar sized store the other side of the road by converting existing shops then you'd support it?

Simon Moores said...

As long as the application satisfied the planning and conservation area regulations I would have no reason to object.

If you read my column you will see quite clearly that Tesco is an irrelevance, it's a retail unit on the south side of Station Road.

Anonymous said...

Simon. You didn't have a problem with the scheme that has consent. Surely that sets the precedent for development on that side of Station Road.... Will be interesting to see what the inspectors conclude.

Anonymous said...

As someone pointed out, back in the 80s we had several shops on the other side of the railway tracks (there's still one remaining). Perhaps Tesco should follow tradition and build their store there?

Simon Moores said...

The original scheme that had consent was for several small shops, retail units, with canopies etc, that used the derelict space and mirrored the look and feel of the conservation area.

I admit to being naive through not objecting to this, - I objected to housing - supported by Cllrs King and Goodwin at the time, without realising that this was the thin end of a wedge to achieve consent for development.

Darren Ellis said...

What you objected to was an application for offices.
I had end users for these units!
You were the one that insisted on retail!
After four years without any interest on the site, why
Shouldn't I accept an offer from Tesco.
Interestingly how did the vile new sign at Edwards slip through your conservation net.

Darren Ellis

Simon Moores said...

Darren. I hardly think this is the forum for you to argue the merits of your case. If I'm absolutely frank, I objected to offices because I had little confidence that you would not attempt to try and use an approval to later apply for residential use.

Secondly, as the recession was just beginning to bite, I though that if an application for anything was going to be made, then small retail units for local businesses that mirrored the existing heritage look of Station Road, would be the best compromise.

As for Edwards sign. That's an enforcement issue for the Council and nothing to do with Tesco although I will raise the matter with them.

Anonymous said...

The point being that Edwards were the ones spearheading the campaign against Tesco, one of those reasons being conservation concerns. Double standards there I believe.

Simon you appear to change your stance at will, one minute you are saying no development at all on the south side next minute your saying it's ok as long as it's local shops. You say that pedestrian facilities are inadequate but the measures proposal by Tesco are far better than the scheme that you supported.

Much better to have the site developed than leaving it for storage of building materials or similar which would be far worse. Don't get me wrong Tesco are everywhere and it's rather annoying but clearly the scheme that you supported has to be a material consideration in all of this. I expect that this will be the benchmark by which the inspectorate will judge this application,.

Simon Moores said...

No.. my position has been very clear from the beginning and reflects that given in to the Council by our local Conservation Area Group.

Edwards were very helpful in providing a focal point for the petition as so many residents use their store and for that I thank them.

Your other statement "measures proposal by Tesco are far better than the scheme that you supported."

Has absolutely nothing to do with the Tesco/Retail unit application.

In fact, I supported nothing. I simply did not object once a compromise had been agreed with the developer of those same small shop units which then became a very large single retail Tesco store, which the Planning Committee, threw out.

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores,retail use is retail use whether it is single unit or not and that fact is you supported it- by your own words here for retail use.It seems now you are setting yourself up as the champion to drive out Tesco realising your mistake or are we campaigning early for 2015?

Anonymous said...

The point has been made in previous blog on this subject, which that 'voting with your feet' does not work with Tesco. They will happily develop a store with no aspiration of profit, but more as a tactic to keep out arrival company.

Simon Moores said...

Anonymous 1:57 It's patently clear that you struggle with simple logic or indeed planning regulations and our local plan.

Allan Mallinson said...

Is an 'arrival' company one that has just appeared?

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores
The fact is you supported retail developement on this site and this has opened the door to Tesco of which you now want to close, because a two thousand name petition against this proposal is not something you would want to be on the wrong end of,is it?

Simon Moores said...

Do please understand until one of us dies!

I "Supported' nothing. I had no role or vote other than seeking a compromise with the developer. Cllr's King and Goodwin are/were on Planning and not me. I simply did not object as I was not asked to.

In the Tesco example I was asked to represent residents and that is exactly what I have done!

Anonymous said...

So you objected to housing and you objected to offices, but naively did not object to the third option, which could well see us with Tesco instead. You bang on about retaining the character of Westgate and the horrors of plastic but your own house which is not only one of the oldest but also is in the conservation area has modern top opening UPVC windows- not even sash ones, ruining the character completely!

Simon Moores said...

2:47. Looking back at your many comments on this application, left here and elsewhere, you appear to have an agenda which I really can't fathom.

For the very last time, let me explain:

I 'objected' to offices but did not object to small retail units in keeping with the conservation area and which would have received consent.

There was no formal objection on my part to anything!

However, after being asked to represent a number of residents and conservation groups, I did "Object" to a 1000 sq/M + two storey retail unit, called Tesco local, Which breaches a number of local planing rules and was judged to do so by the Planning Committee of TDC.

Is that clear enough for you now?

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores. 1.57 here. I am we'll aware of planning regs. The point I was making is that whilst I completely support your stance, people need reminding that Tesco is big to be bothered by a potential lack of customers in Westgate, they are playing for bigger stakes! Good luck with your campaign.

Anonymous said...

I don't care. I live in Westgate but don't shop here. I find the area where Tesco want to build an absolute eyesore. Tesco can't make it look any worse and I can't afford Co-Op prices anymore. Birchington is much friendlier and there is much more choice.

Anonymous said...

Simon, is it really a 1000sq/m store?
No wonder people have campaigned against this!
Is each of the floors this size?

Anonymous said...

2:16 . No it isn't the application form states that the retail floorspace will be less than 268sq/m. With back office space at 1st floor. Think he must be getting feet and metres mixed up.

That really isn't a particularly large store. Comparable to the existing Co-op over the road. Simon clearly wants this to sound worse than it is.

Anonymous said...

So, who's right on this, 9:46 or Simon? Anyone???

Anonymous said...

For clarification, I've scaled the drawings and within a few mm 9.46 is correct.
If Simon meant Sq feet it would only of been a little over

Bemused of Birchington said...

Tesco have withdrawn their application in Sherborne, Dorset. The reason is that there are planning problems over road access. Surely these same reasons must apply to what is a busy corner in Westgate.