Money money money…

Just for everyone’s information – Tesco, in an outrageous bid to eke out every last drop of money from the Warley Hill development – are appealing the ATM decision. Despite the clear message sent to them at the planning meeting where the application was declined.

We’ve sent the following, and would commend the same to anyone else who cares about Warley and its sustainable future to do the same:

To Brentwood Borough Planning Officer:

There are a number of failings in relation to sustainability that an ATM installation will impact in direct correlation to the National Planning Policy Framework:

1              Social sustainability – the installation of an ATM at that point will impact upon the area 24hrs a day. Unlike the former pub which will be licenced for certain hours. Therefore the noise and arrival / departure of cars will be felt on this particularly narrow stretch of Warley Hill at all hours. The antisocial nature of an ATM in that position is unsustainable socially and will lead to problems for local residents.

2              Economic sustainability – two nearby ATMs already exist, one within 50 metres, another within 80 metres an additional ATM will flood the area with unnecessary supply. Furthermore, the impact mentioned at (1) will certainly lead to a reduction in the values of local property, meaning that the installation would have a negative economic impact upon the investment and values obtained by hard working local residents.

3              Environmental sustainability – the street-facing nature of the ATM means that it will encourage passers-by to stop on the street in cars – this will in turn increase noise, and pollution in the area as traffic is delayed in Queues on Warley Hill – a careful study of traffic flow will be needed in order to justify such a move – the impact of a similar machine can be seen at the nearby Hanging Hill Lane installation where traffic queues and parking on the pavement are now a regular feature of the street scene. The only difference being that on Hanging Hill Lane, more space is available.

Quite apart from the above, the ATM isn’t needed or wanted by local residents. A 24hr cash facility will attract only antisocial behaviour, such as drug dealers and users, and undesirable elements.

Placing an ATM inside the store should be perfectly adequate for any responsible retailer with plans to be a ‘good neighbour’ – there is no possible reason for having a street-facing external ATM other than to encourage people to stop on the street and park their car illegally then to entice them into the shop. It’s both unsustainable and irresponsible.

Yours faithfully,

Just an afterthought…

As construction gradually (and slightly shambolically) gets underway on the planned site for Tesco (remember, at the moment it’s just the landlord working on the site, not Tesco), here’s a little thought.

In the national planning policy framework, it says this:

26. When assessing applications for retail, leisure and office development outside of town centres, which are not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan, local planning authorities should require an impact assessment if the
development is over a proportionate, locally set floorspace threshold (if there is no locally set threshold, the default threshold is 2,500 sq m).This should include assessment of:
●● the impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a centre or centres in the catchment area of the proposal; and
●● the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made.
27. Where an application fails to satisfy the sequential test or is likely to have significant adverse impact on one or more of the above factors, it should be refused.”

Of course, because it’s a pub, in theory these factors don’t come into play, but it just goes to show – the supermarket on Warley Hill will be over 5,000 sq ft – double the recommended size at which the store would simply be refused had it been a new building in the same location.

And your local friendly Tory administration were all for it.

…The Financial Times seem to think so – their insistence on aggressively opening a series of unsustainable shops on every street corner in the country in a desperate attempt to homogenise every town and city in the land doesn’t seem to be paying dividends.

Profits are down once again, and the FT suggest Tesco need a strategy overhaul: http://www.ft.com/fastft?post=47012

Did Brentwood Let Us Down?

It seems so.

Tory controlled Brentwood council seemed adamant – particularly Councillor Parker who wanted Warley bulldozed – that Tesco couldn’t be stopped, and they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) get in the way.

But the following news from the ‘Tescopoly’ website seems to suggest it is possible to halt the supermarket takeover of our pubs…

1) Novel planning measures to protect pubs for re-development
Cambridge City Council has pioneered groundbreaking planning guidance to protect local pubs from change of use, conversion and redevelopment.  The policy guidance was drawn up in response to the closure of over 20 pubs in the city over a five-year period.  It builds on measures envisaged by the 2011 Localism Act to give communities a greater say over their future.
Applicants now planning to redevelop a pub in Cambridge must prove that “all reasonable efforts” have been made to preserve the site in its current usage. This includes showing that the site has been marketed unsuccessfully as a pub, restaurant or alternative community facility for 12 months at a price agreed with the Council.
Applicants must also provide evidence that it would “not be economically viable” to retain the site as a pub (or a restaurant or community facility) and demonstrate that local area no longer needs such provision.
2) Community efforts to list pubs as community assets
Under the 2011 Localism Act, communities can list buildings and land of special value to the community as community valued assets (CVA). If a CVA comes up for sale, communities then have a six-month window of opportunity to purchase the site (See briefing for more details).  Several communities have recently listed pubs as CVAs as part of campaigning efforts to prevent supermarket chains from re-developing the sites.
The George IV pub, Brixton Hill, London: In April 2013, the George IV pub was listed as a CVA by Lambeth Council. The ‘Save George IV’ campaign is ongoing.
The Golden Harp pub, Maidenhead:  In February 2013, a group of local residents, the Furze Platt Action Group (FPAG), nominated the Golden Harp pub as a CVA.
In April 2013, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead listed the site as CVA. The FPAG campaign is ongoing and in June 2013 the Council voted unanimously to reject Tesco’s planning applications on the site (see below).
3) Article Four Directions
An Article Four Direction serves to suspend permitted development rights.  That is, it requires a developer to submit a planning application where it would not be required to usually, such as for the conversion of a pub into a shop.  A Local Planning Authority can make an Article Four Direction under the 1995 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, although it must also be confirmed the Government.
In March 2013, FPAG sent an open letter to the head of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council requesting an Article Four Direction be served to force Tesco to seek full planning permission to covert the Golden Harp pub (see above).
In April 2013, a Council meeting voted to defer the decision of enacting an Article Four Direction to the Development Control Panel (DCP).  The DCP, however, voted against the measure, with the press and public excluded from the debate. FPAG have argued that  according to planning lawyers, compensation payments would be limited and there was so far no similar case of compensation being awarded.
…so while other councils do their best to support their communities and reduce the creeping decimation of towns and high streets, Brentwood sat back and did nothing. Do remember that when next you have a chance to vote.

Sherborne Win!

The long and hard battle fought by the people of Sherborne has led to a victory for common sense and an end to the potential destruction of another high street in Dorset:

More information at http://www.nothankstesco.co.uk/

Are Tesco beginning to realise that their aggression isn’t acceptable? Are falling profits and share values a sign that Tesco can’t keep pushing and pushing to dominate everything and everywhere in sight? Could the length of time it’s taken to open the store on Warley Hill be reflective of a sea change in attitude by the monstrous retailer?

It seems unlikely. But for now at least, the people of Sherborne can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that at least their town isn’t going to be decimated by yet another oversized mammoth of a store and Tesco.

Last week, Sainsburys also had a major application turned down in the Cotswolds – more common sense prevailing.

Shop local, shop independent, and support real businesses that genuinely contribute to the local economy.

Govt Advisor ‘slams’ Tesco report

Tesco are at it again – in their latest bid to monopolise shopping in the UK (and particularly in East Anglia), they’ve had a report commissioned. The report – unsurprisingly – comes down in their favour…

They claim that small Tesco stores ensure people keep using their local high streets! Oh really Tesco – is that why you’ve opened three Tesco in Brentwood well away from the high street? A government retail advisor has criticised it, saying it’s biased and out of date.

Read the report in the East Anglian Daily Times.

Other councils have more teeth…

After Brentwood’s feeble politicking at planning recently, followers of this site might be interested to see the results of other local councils in recent weeks:

Teddington, Middlesex – Richmond Council have refused a supermarket application by Sainsbury’s. The plans for a Sainsbury’s local store were rejected by councillors due to the traffic impact, and signage considered detrimental to the conservation area. Campaigners from Say No to Sainsbury’s Teddington were supported by the local business community, and the Teddington Society. A full recording of the meeting can be viewed on the Council website here

Chesterfield, Derbyshire – Earlier this month, Chesterfield Borough Council turned down Tesco’s plan for an Express store on the site of the The Crispin pub for the second time. Tesco can turn the pub into a store without planning consent, but submitted two applications to demolish a conservatory and build an extension and for front and side alterations to the building. Councillors voted against the plans on the grounds of noise and traffic congestion. A campaign group “SAVE THE CRISPIN” actively opposed the plans and gathered a petition, against the proposals, signed by over 1,000 people.

In March four out of six applications concerning The Crispin Inn were turned down by town planners. Two applications were approved, for the installation of various signs on site. Others – to install plant equipment, fit a cash machine, make alterations and create an extension as well as disabled access ramp – were rejected. Tesco is appealing the council’s decision to reject an application for plant equipment and an ATM at the site.

—–

What a shame Brentwood Borough Council don’t have the imagination or the willingness to protect our community and our heritage from the homogeneous onslaught of more and more supermarkets. Still, we’re sure folk will remember when election time comes…

Happy Wedding Anniversary

A minor victory this evening, as democracy almost broke out in Brentwood.

I spent my 2nd wedding anniversary sitting in Brentwood’s council chamber speaking on behalf of the many people who’ve supported this site in the past few months.  

As a result, Tesco WON’T be able to have a cash machine open 24hrs a day attracting traffic to park on Warley Hill.

Sadly thanks to this country’s poor planning laws, the huge superstore will open, complete with inappropriate signage and lighting – though it’s likely there now won’t be a need for bollards – as we’ve diminished the risk of ram raids on Warley Hill.

RAM RAIDS?! Yes, the Tesco rep did suggest Ram Raids would be an issue! Well, that’s a relief.

Oddly there was a ‘supporter’ of Tesco. The character who posted here for a while as ‘Franki’, and as ‘SimonChristoph1’ and ‘welcome warley tesco’ on twitter, spent half of the meeting heckling / abusing Councillors, and making apparently irrelevant comments, before leaving part way through the meeting. With friends like that, I suspect Tesco won’t require any enemies.

Most disappointing of all, two local Councillors on the planning committee who expressed their dissatisfaction with the development were ‘unable’ to attend. As the votes were on an 8/7 majority, their presence would undoubtedly have made a difference.

So – people of Warley and Brentwood, next time your local Tories come knocking on the door after you’ve battled through a traffic jam on Warley Hill, remember they sat back and watched while Tesco ran roughshod over our community. No attempt was made to tone down the signage, or reduce the impact of the new doors.

If only party politics didn’t run Brentwood borough.

I wonder if Tesco are generous donors to the Conservative Central Office? [see below]

Thanks to everyone who supported this site over the past few months, to the councillors who did come and vote on the side of common sense tonight. It’s unlikely there will be many more posts – but we will focus on supporting our local businesses, trying to ensure a SUSTAINABLE future for Warley, and preservation of what remains of its semi-rural character.

[EDIT – I’ve just found this – http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/6272 – explains quite clearly why we’ll never know how much Tesco give to the Tories. But you can be sure they’re using their financial weight wherever it helps them – be it in Westminster, or in Brentwood. ]

Traffic – How Warley Hill Will Look…

Anyone who’s driven up Warley Hill in the past week will inevitably have been stuck in the traffic madness which has resulted from some temporary roadworks there.

Last night I was at the ‘Brentwood Tweetup’ – a gathering of the various people who use Twitter in Brentwood. Many of them were talking about the issue of traffic on Hanging Hill Lane.

“But what has traffic on the most notorious accident blackspot in the borough got to do with Warley Tesco?” – I hear you ask!

Hanging Hill Lane was the last road in Brentwood to be blighted by a Tesco. A Tesco with significantly more parking than Warley Hill. Around 15 spaces are provided at HH Lane, compared with the proposed 8 in Warley.

And the result? I went to take a look this evening. Thought it’d take me a while before I saw anything too bad. How wrong I was. Within five minutes, various cars pulled up, and either blocked the road or the pavement. Many didn’t park in front of the bollards but up or down from the shop, and most parked across the pavement. Most were using the cashpoint, but many went inside to do their shopping. All of them caused a hazard…

Around 6.30pm…

IMG_20130704_183144

Then a few minutes later…

IMG_20130704_183301

About 6.35pm…

IMG_20130704_183539

Then 6.40pm…

.IMG_20130704_183907

And so it continued! And notice, the road and pavement here are wider than on Warley Hill. We can only imagine what will happen on Warley Hill when Tesco arrives with fewer parking spaces, ATM and a huge front door facing the main road.

[Edit] – some have proclaimed ‘but there’ll be bollards on Warley Hill, to stop this’ If you look in the second picture above, you’ll see there are bollards on Hanging Hill Lane – they’re only there to protect the cash machine, not the public. Tesco have one interest – and it’s not the people of Brentwood.