Planners overlook the value of retail diversity and vitality

Surrey Heath’s planning applications committee met on Monday evening, with one highly contentious item on the agenda. This was a joint application by Tesco Stores and Thames Valley Housing Associations  to demolish Pembroke House on the Frimley Road in Camberley and replace it with a three storey building to comprise class A1 retail use on ground floor with 14 two bedroom flats above.

The committee rejected the application for the second time, voting 11 to 5 to reject the application. The meeting is extensively covered in this week’s Camberley News.

The Tesco business model seems to me to want to place a Tesco Express or Tesco Metro store in every shopping arcade in the country. One can appreciate that vision, and there are many customers who like to shop with Tesco. What this does is drive out diversity and originality and replace it with bland uniformity.

Begining to demolish Lightwater HomecareResidents and councillors in Lightwater fought hard to prevent the DIY/Hardware store in Lightwater’s village shopping centre from becoming a Tesco Express convenience store. Two planning applications were rejected by the planning applications committee, though the planning inspectorate granted the application on appeal by Tesco.

Subsequently, Marks and Spencer have been granted planning permission for a M&S Simply Food convenience store in Lightwater’s BP Filing Station.

You could conclude that Lightwater has convenience store diversity, with Tesco, M&S, and Budgens. Two big supermarket chains with no local connections, no desire to build a village retail community.

Most of the shops in Lightwater are community aware, with such as the village Fayres in the Square, or Hammond School Experience Day. Can you see Tesco doing any of this? No nor can I. Sad isn’t it.

I wish the objectors to Tesco Express on the Frimley Road much success when it’ll inevitably goes to appeal.

Appeal against Tesco Express store in Lightwater dismissed

Opposition to a Tesco Express store at 89-91 Guildford Road in Lightwater fails on appeal. The Planning Inspector’s judgement did make some concessions to local opposition, by limiting opening hours. Not by much though. Here’s what he said,

“I consider that limiting the hours of opening to between 0700-2200, Monday – Saturday, and 0700–2100 on Sunday and Bank Holidays would be appropriate. To protect the living conditions of neighbours it is also necessary to limit the servicing of the store to hours similar to the normal working day and to minimise disturbance during the construction process.”

The reasons the Inspector gives for dismissing the appeal show that in the process on reviewing the application changes have been made which lessen the impact on Lightwater’s village centre. The key objections he rejected are:

  • Overcoming the dangers of using large servicing vehicles. Tesco submitted a draft servicing plan, and explained to the Inspector how they have worked satisfactorily elsewhere. The Inspector accepted that the servicing plan, agreeing that it would need, amongst other things, vehicle manoeuvring space to be free, and the use of relatively small delivery vehicles and fore-knowledge by store managers of their arrival. He felt the draft servicing management plan would not threaten highway safety.
  • Overcoming highway safety objections. This was the key factor that the Inspector considered. The Inspector viewed that the altered kerb-line coming with the speed table, which replaced the footpath build out to regulate movement of vehicles, increased the sightline available to the north, from 17m to 25m, and that along with the traffic survey data shows that this is acceptable in terms of highway safety.
  • Lack of available car parking. The inspector concluded that, “Although similar in principle to the previous scheme, the size of the store has been reduced, there would be two additional car parking spaces and there is provision for service vehicles to turn on site”.

Nothing more to say.