Thursday, March 14, 2013

Metro Madness

Sir Roger Gale adds his Support to Westgate Campaign
Away on business this week, I have been catching-up by email and Twitter, on the progress of the Westgate, Tesco Metro application, which comes before the planning committee of Thanet District Council, next Wednesday evening at 7pm. If you plan to attend in the public gallery, then you should arrive early as spaces are limited.

I have been asked by the objectors, both traders and residents to speak against the application. Just to remind ourselves, the council received a petition of 2,000 signatures, expressing concerns at the potential impact on local trade, as well as sending out over five hundred letters to residents who contacted the Council with a view.

The planning committee will be giving me and Jonathan Simmonds (representing the heritage side), three minutes to present our arguments to the councillors of all parties, before reaching a decision. Presently, Thanet Council's planning department have recommended approval of the application in Station Road, based planning regulations and article TC8 of our local plan, which support the building of retailoutlets in order to offer local people greaterchoice.

Readers may recall that the Sainsbury's application in the Canterbury Road was rejected last year because of objections from Kent Highways. I had expected the same to happen to Tesco in the town of Westgate, if not based on the daily road traffic chaos that surrounds a similar Tesco Metro in Westbrook but because of its position and the absence of parking spaces.

Roxburgh Rd
Instead and to my great surprise, 'Highways' appear to believe that ample parking spaces exist, if not in Station Road, then in the adjacent Roxburgh Road and that furthermore, most visitors to the store will walk and not drive.

Not only is the pavement width provision for the store inadequate in my view but the highways officers appear not to have noticed that the gaps along Roxburgh Road are a consequence of the many driveways and that parking in Station Road is frequently non-existent during peak times of the day and I will be challenging their report.

This morning, when I drove to Margate, I encountered a Tesco delivery lorry parked on the double yellow lines outside the Westbrook store and given so many independent reports of similar incidents, I have no reason to doubt that the same would not happen in Westgate and I worry that buses and emergency services vehicles may have their route into the town blocked from time to time.

Station Rd View
So what can be challenged and what can't?

I'm still researching the finer points of the planning regulations but we must start by accepting that the name, 'Tesco' is purely incidental. The site already has planning permission for retail, offices in fact, something I gave conditional approval to the developer for several years ago and was surprised when this was changed to something entirely different not long after permission was granted.

The Council can only object to a development on planning grounds, highways included. In this case the argument against potential economic impact on local traders as a consequence of the new store opening.

If the Council  were to object, then the prevalent opinion is that it would likely lose on appeal and leave us, the council tax payers, holding the costs for a legal battle with Tesco's very expensive and very sharp lawyers.

So, presently I plan to concentrate on the highways report, which I believe is weak and does not reflect the true situation in Station Road and Roxburgh Road and that the building still remains out of keeping with the heritage conservation area style of Westgate on Sea, which you can read about in Wikipedia.

Location mid right of photo
I think that based on the weight of regulations in favour of the development, the very best I can achieve next Wednesday, is to encourage the members of the planning committtee to visit the site and decide for themselves whether the pavement and parking provisions are both safe and adequate for the footfall and traffic expected. It would also be useful if they looked at the plans for the new& building in the context of Westgate's own unique history and perhaps take into account that if that one small site is developed, it won't be long until all the adjacent lots towards Paul's Bar, grow concrete as what was near derelict land suddenly increases in value.

There is now a Facebook group you can join "Say No to Tesco in Westgate" and I would encourage readers to discuss the arguments that I might sensibly use in the three minutes available.

On other news it's good to put a face to a name or in this case, that of local Margate Labour Party activist, Amy Rutland, who caused quite a stir, for all the wrong reasons on the BBC's Question Time programme from Dover last week and had her fifteen seconds or more of fame, in front of the studio cameras and subsequently, the Daily Mail. Amy, who had to close down access to her Twitter feed after the hate campaign that followed , will, I'm sure be working hard to support young Will Scobie's campaign in Cliftonville in the coming weeks.

Finally and on a completely different subject. Adrian Square is closed while the fallen tree is cut into pieces and removed. Hopefully a new wall will be up soon. It's fortunate nobody was hurt.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

NIMBYS!!!

1 o'clock Rob said...

Not everyone is a NIMBY. From my experience little choice will be offered by the Tesco Metro (just look at what sits on the shelves at the Westbrook Metro, also the prices will be higher and then top that all off with the fact that Westgate doesn't offer enough parking at the best of times.

There have been at least two accidents near the Tesco Metro in Westbrook, I'm not saying that Tesco is to blame but with minimal available parking causing customers to illegally park on pavements or sit on double yellow lines it mush have had an impact on the safety of crossing near that location given the reduced visibility of vehicles on the road.

I am amazed that Highways have allowed this to pass muster.

Anonymous said...

Parking in Station road has been a problem for years and is compounded by idiots who double park. Last week, one such considerate driver held up all the traffic including a bus while he went into the Co-op! The thought of adding to this with Tesco lorries delivering at the sort of time of day as they do at the one in Westbrook is appalling. Nimbys?
I don't think so!!!! Plus, the pothole situation in both Station and St Mildred's road is bad enough now without yet more lorries.

Anonymous said...

Simon,

What a shame the Council doesn't have up to date and appropriate policies for such applications. Where is the shopping demand study that could steer such a policy and identify oversupply etc. You were in power leading up to this sate of affairs but did nothing!! Why? And why are you and your colleagues so supportive of the hideous Tesco application for Arlington, which makes even less sense?

Anonymous said...

If the majority of people really don't want it then it will fail anyway. On the other hand...

DFL said...

Hi Simon,

If permission was granted by yourself in the past, why the change of mind? This is not a dig but could be used as a learning experience for council ours in the future.

If even you did not understand the implications of granting permission for one thing which could easily be replaced for another, what hope do the imbeciles furnishing council chambers have?

BTW- the oldest builder trick in the book. If planning permission for one thing is likely to be rejected, go for something else in between. Makes going for your original choice easier in the long run.

Anonymous said...

The name Tesco does seem to bring out hysterical reactions from some (glad to see you're not one of them Simon),I agree this development will cause parking problems and should therefore be discouraged. It is interesting however that not all traders are against this proposal, Molly's which is more or less opposite the site is in favour and has bravely put a notice in the window to say so. Local traders need to wise up and look at how they can compete, offer something different / better - decent personal customer service would be a start.

Simon Moores said...

DFL.. I'm afraid that I was a little too naive in the ways of developers when this permission was first granted not long after I became a councillor. As my fellow ward councillors had no objections, I was seeking a compromise.

Answering another question on the Arlington Tesco. I'm afraid that is very different and for different reasons and I don't consider it has a place for debate here as it has been discussed in great depth elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"I have no reason to doubt that the same would not happen in Westgate ...."

a negative too far, methinks.

Simon Moores said...

Yes. tied myself in a verbal knot there didn't I?

Anonymous said...

Well it looks like I'm the only one, but I want a Tesco in Westgate, there is little choice in the town now and prices are sky high

Anonymous said...

Bring on Tesco..choice should be for us all!

Anonymous said...

1. The plans do not facilitate sustainable growth.

2. The plans will not bring about a significant reduction in unemployment levels, indeed they are quite like to increase unemployment in the long-term as other shops are impacted.

3. The plans, if successful, will degrade the character and appearance of a designated conservation area.

4. The plans show a building no less than 6 times the width of the
average shop front in Westgate. This is totally out of keeping.

5. Tesco late opening will cause an increase in drunk and disorderly
behaviour with the sale of cheap alcohol. Already lager cans litter the Network Rail land nearby.

6. Tesco will cause an increase traffic, congestion and pollution. The Tesco in Westbrook has already caused serious problems related to
illegal parking resulting in the need to expend scarce public funds
installing new bollards.

7. Even if all goes to plan the road will be blocked for 2-3 minutes every time the delivery truck reverses into the loading bay (residents will have to put up with the daily sound of reversing horns!). In practice, Station Road will be blocked for significant periods of time because it will be impossible to stop cars parking in the loading bay outside Tesco. The delivery truck will therefore be forced to double park while it unloads creating significant congestion at both ends of Station Road.

Simon Moores said...

For information, here's some Council correspondence in response to a resident's letter below: (name withheld)

Dear Sir

Please accept my apologies for my delay in responding to your last e-mail. The report to planning committee will address the principle of the development, including Thanet Local Plan Policies TC1 and TC8, together with subsequent national guidance in the form of the National Planning Policy Statement. The report will be made available for inspection and will be issued to Members of the Planning Committee, together with copies of representations received.

The application will be considered at Planning Committee on Wednesday 20th March.

Kind Regards,

Simon Moores said...

Here's the letter which prompted the Planning officer reply above.

Dear Sir

Thank you for your prompt reply. Unfortunately I disagree with your interpretation of the Council's stated policy and I fail to see how you can consider this proposal as being in accordance with the Local Plan.

You have selectively quoted sections of the stated policies and guidance notes in apparent support of your decision, but reading the whole policy and guidance notes leads me to the opposite conclusion. May I make it clear here that I have no objection to TESCO as a company - should they wish to apply to take over the existing Co-Op in Station Road, I, and I am sure many others, would welcome it.

I cannot see how you can claim that any new supermarket on the proposed site accords with policy TC8. This policy, while clearly potentially allowing additional shopping provision, requires any proposals to clearly demonstrate, fundamentally, the "need" for extra facilities. This is a considerable requirement, and is far higher hurdle to cross than a simple application to build something, when the criterion may be largely determined by architecture and design. By its own admission the proposed store is aimed solely at "Top-up shopping" and does not demonstrate any 'need' in its proposal. A Co-Op already exists on site, with extended opening hours offering a wide range of goods.

Para 4.87 states... " The district centres of Westgate, Birchington and Minster all offer a wide range of shopping facilities to meet the needs of local people, the tourist trade and passing trade in pleasant and vibrant surroundings. It is important that the vitality of these centres is maintained." Therefore, in the Council's own stated opinion Westgate (among the others) is already well catered for, and must be maintained as a distinctive and vibrant local, centre. It therefore follows, from the Council's stated position, there is no clear or obvious 'need' for this store, and indeed there is absolutely no 'need' demonstrated in the application. The 'need' for further facilities is a fundamental requirement to accord with the Local Plan, whatever your personal opinions on the merits of this proposal.

You then quote para 4.88 in apparent support of the proposal, stating that as the store will be less than 1000 sqm, it therefore accords with the planning guidance. This is disingenuous, as you appear to disregard the first sentence of para 4.88 i.e "...The District Council envisages that any new retail shops within these centres should be local shops, to serve the local catchment of the particular centre..." The 1000 sqm consideration is then simply a limit on the size of retail development, and is not the criterion for approval in principle.

The fact that an existing application for 4 retail units was approved is a red herring. The two proposals are very different, and I see it as most unreasonable to attempt to equate that proposal with the current one. 4 separate units clearly accord with the stated local plan, ie small, individual local shops. One large unit does not. While it is possibly arguable that TESCO could, at some future date, have applied to take over all the 'approved' units and then combine them, that would have been a significant change of use and probably would have required a completely new planning application and approval process.

In your reply, you have not addressed my objection under policy TC1, in particular paragraph 2, which places the onus on the applicant to demonstrate 'need' and to assess the potential impact on existing businesses. The application states it expects to provide a small number of full and part-time jobs in Westgate, but makes no mention of the likely impact on existing businesses. Surely that must be a key matter in maintaining the vibrancy of Westgate centre.


With best regards

Anonymous said...

Well said, writer of resident's letter. I could not agree more, and certainly couldn't put it better!

Anonymous said...

Simon. As a long-established Westgate business, my reasons at Edwards, behind my objection are as follows:

The proposed development of a new Tesco Store in Westgate would be extremely detrimental to my family run business, “Edwards” a Mini Supermarket, which we have built up, sometimes at great personal sacrifice in Westgate, over the past 30 years.

Speaking to my neighboring retail traders, they likewise feel strongly that should planning for the new Tesco store be allowed, they likewise will suffer a hugely damaging loss of local business at a time, when many are already struggling to survive.

As with all Tesco stores throughout the UK, they would simply be retailing all of the same goods and services, which are already available from many other retail stores in Westgate.

In addition to my Mini Supermarket, this would include two green grocers, a bakery, two newsagents which both have alcohol licenses and the National Lottery license, a dedicated off -license store, a family run butchers, a small mini-market and of course, the “Co-op” supermarket. Most of these stores are open daily for very long hours. For example, the Co-op is open until 10pm and our Mini Supermarket, Edwards, is open from 5:30am until 11pm, 7 days a week!

I thought the government were trying to save local shops, so why is our council allowing a Tesco store to go ahead, that has been objected to by over 2,500 residents and more than 500 letters!

Continued below..

Anonymous said...

Continued...

I am sure Tesco will endeavor to try and argue their usual campaign slogan, “that they are creating more jobs in this area”, but what about all the local jobs which will be lost when most of the existing stores are forced to close.

Another reason behind my firm objection to the Tesco store is the problems that will inevitably immediately occur with the parking situation in Station Road. Currently both sides of Station Road are nearly always completely packed with parked cars, with double-parking a frequent and dangerous occurrence. A new Tesco store would create a logistical parking nightmare, which will also prove detrimental to anyone thinking of going shopping in Westgate.

In my opinion the survey carried out by the highways department is nothing short of ludicrous. I don’t know at what time of the week or what time of the day they carried out their survey, but for instance any week day during the school term between 8am and 9:30am, the whole of Station Road is manically busy with people parked and double parked all over the place. Further to this every evening from around 6pm when the residents in this area who live above the shops, are home and parked, parking spaces are few and far between.

My other objection in regard to the Highways Survey is the nonsense of their comment that if there are insufficient parking spaces in Station Road, nearby Roxburgh Road, had plenty. I am sure again that after 6pm the residents of Roxburgh Road which have on one side a large proportion of properties with up to 4 or 5 flats in each, would not agree with this.

I think it would also be poignant to point out the chaos of the parking problem that has been created by the new Tesco in Westbrook – people double parked on pavements, lorries double parked and blocking the road. There have already been accidents caused as a direct result of this store being allowed to be built. The question must be asked, why was council permission given and did the highways department survey not foresee any of these potential problems.

The parking situation could also create a serious problem for the emergency services, especially keeping in mind that Station Road is also a main bus route. Also, if my understanding of Tesco’s proposed plan is correct, they are to add insult to injury, by suggesting the narrowing of certain parts of Station Road, to allow people to cross safely to their store. What an outrage, who on earth do they think they are and how much more is it possible the local council and highways department will concede to thee people.

Added to this, the inevitable onslaught of tesco delivery lorries which would be parked or double parked on station road and the resultant problems, you would think, it would be clear for all to see … and, Tesco Will Park and Double Park at all times as they do at their Westbrook store, whether they promise otherwise or not!

I feel it is important to make the point about Westgate being a Conservation area, which should not only protect the architectural history but also the character of small villages such as Westgate, which are epitomized by independent and family run businesses.

I hope the Council will finally listen and backs the local support against Tesco and firmly reject this planning application.

Ted Wolf

Simon Moores said...

May I suggest that the objectors visit www.tescopoly.org

I also had a chat with Sir Roger Gale and discovered a Metro was rejected at Herne, mostly because of highways and local scene issues. However, their planning policies are likely to be a little different to Thanet's

Anonymous said...

The Westbrook Tesco is always busy, probably at least partly because they DO sell things that can't be bought elsewhere in Westbrook, fresh fruit & uncut bread for example. What is also notable is that in almost a year of trading NONE of the other local shops have gone out of business, but instead have become more competitive: The ex-post office opposite now has many more food bargains, and Spar down the road now opens earlier. So, instead of just focussing on the negatives (ie a little more traffic), how about looking at the positives too? There's no doubt that Tesco has been good for Westbrook overall, just as it could be for Westgate too.

Anonymous said...

One positive could be that the local shops up their game. Edward's in particular seem to be taking money hand over fist (always busy when I go by) but do nothing to improve the appearance of the shop, both outside and inside... no wonder they're worried about the new tesco!

Anonymous said...

Well said 10:03. The "service" in Edwards is awful !

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:03 pm makes a good case for Westbrook Tesco in so far as it goes. There are traffic problems with delivery lorries and other vehicles parked on yellow lines adjacent to a pedestrian refuge, but the fact that you can buy items unavailable elsewhere in Westbrook is probably a good reason to be there, though what happens if/when Arlington gets the go ahead remains to be seen. I am a resident of Birchington but am extremely wary now when approaching Westbrook from over the bridge because a busy junction has become busier. I don't use Westgate much but I believe items such as fresh bread, fruit etc. are already available in Station Road, and one of the reasons I don't use Westgate is because it is difficult to find somewhere to park. I am sure that the residents of Roxburgh Road will find vehicles blocking their driveways, or find it difficult to park in their own road if this store goes ahead. I have nothing against Tesco but believe the proposed site is not suitable.

Anonymous said...

Is the backing of Roger Gale a poison chalice me thinks?

Anonymous said...

Former Goods Yard, Station Road, Westgate on Sea Kent

Ref F/TH/12/0769 Erection of two-storey retail (A1) unit (268sqm


I wish to lodge my objections to the proposed planning application.

Station Road Westgate on Sea with its rare canopied shops, was part of the first Westgate on Sea Conservation Areas and it is right to point out that the road and its environs – Roxburgh Road, Adrian and Ethelbert Squares, St Mildred’s and Cuthbert Roads and the central part of Westgate Bay Avenue - still form a substantial part of Victorian Westgate. Nothing should be allowed to spoil its integrity.

Westgate’s “shopping area” is rare in that it is completely Victorian and as such should be cherished as much as better known places like the medieval Rows at Chester or the Georgian Pantiles at Tunbridge Wells.

By 1891 there was a total of 50 shops in Westgate (25 in Station Road, 5 in Station Terrace, 10 in St Mildred’s Road and 10 in Cuthbert Road). The census return for that year recorded a population of 1391 people. This ratio is good evidence of the kind of clientele for which the retailers in Westgate were providing – high quality, small businesses where the customer was all important.

The plan for the Westgate Estate drawn by the Estate architect, Charles Nightingale Beazley F.R.I.B.A., in 1870 shows clearly that Station Road was intended to have shops on one side only of the road east of the stationmaster’s house.

A two-storey retail outlet on the south side of the road would be quite incongruous. The present garden centre is well disguised and not intrusive and the Council of the day which erected the toilets at the eastern end of the road is to be congratulated in making them unobtrusive.

Station Road was originally built to be wide enough for a carriage to turn; where there is no pavement today was where the licensed hackney carriage stands allowed cab drivers to wait for those alighting at the station.

Although at street level there have been changes to shop fronts, the storeys above are almost exactly as they were even though there have been some new windows fitted.

The standard of architecture and building is very high. Development started from the eastern end and close examination of the former Jackson’s stables and the shop on the corner with Adrian Square, now a green-grocer’s, show polychrome brickwork which is distinctive and an important part of Westgate’s history.

These buildings designed by Charles Beazley and built by William Corbett are almost identical to buildings in West Brompton in Kensington which were being built by the same firm at the same time

The next block of shops was also built by Corbett and designed by Beazley – look at the decorative brickwork above the shop fronts and the standard of workmanship is clear.

The third block of red-brick shops with slate canopies was designed by William Lockwood and built by his father Alfred Lockwood and opened in 1880. They too have many features which are to be admired.

The last five shops to the west before the road bends round to become St Mildred’s Road were built in 1883 – unfortunately the dates in the gables are no longer legible, but we have photographs of them when they were. Note here the high quality diaper brickwork on those gables.

It is unlikely that any building erected today will meet up to that standard or that there will be any attempt to create something that will blend in.

There would not appear to be any need for further retail outlets in Westgate. Presumably it would be yet another licensed premise which can only add to the problems of anti-social behaviour in Station Road. It is obvious that the covenants which exist on almost all the property in Station Road and which prohibit the sale of alcohol in any form have been totally ignored – they have never been rescinded by the people who first imposed them – but it is too late now to undo what has been done. They were originally imposed to prevent the very problems that exist now.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Dawn Crouch

Anonymous said...

Please explain how "yet another licensed premise" will increase anti-social behaviour? If someone wants to buy alcohol, then it doesn't matter if there's 1 or 6 shops selling it, just as an extra fish & chips shop wouldn't lead to more people eating fish & chips. I should also add that Tesco are VERY strict on checking the age of anyone who looks remotely under 25, unlike many smaller stores who turn a blind eye to kids hanging out around the corner asking adults to buy booze & ciggies for them (I've seen it happen, both in Westgate & Westbrook!).

katie wolf said...

anonymous replys....always a sign of a weak nobody...however,my name is katie wolf..i run edwards for my dad..we promote almost certainly the best deals in westgate,i.e bread 99p,,milk £1 for 4pints..if when one walks by.. we seem to be making money 'hand over fist'..as commented on previous....so where do your values lye?? would you rather walk in to a plush shop and pay overpriced?? or get value for your money? what do you suggest?? we have a makeover..put our prices up? our priority is keeping prices down...you may feel..as you put it... making money hand over fist..our priority is with the value for our customers...that is why..as you suggest..we are always busy!.. katie wolf.

Anonymous said...

Depends what you mean by "value for money". I'd certainly rather pay £1.45 for a nutricious seeded wholemeal loaf in Tesco than 99p for a tasteless & fatty white loaf elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

The "weak nobody" of 10.09am would like to make it known they are not the same (presumably in the eyes of Ms Wolf) "weak nobody" of 7.31pm.

This anonymous was not about to dignify Ms Wolf's attack on a valid customer criticism with a reply.

Simon Moores said...

Let's avoid the argument over what presently exists and perhaps concentrate our collective attention on the immediate problem of challenging the Tesco Metro unless of course, readers are in favour. Arguments in support are equally valid here.

jasm said...

Tesco by their very nature will degrade and close the local competition, it's what they employ some of the best marketing people in the country for. Just look at thousands of high streets across the country that are destroyed by out of town and now in town convenience store priced, we sell everything stores.

Anonymous said...

All this jumping up and down about Tesco, the place is needed, and before you all start shouting you could at least get your facts straight.

The Tesco that may or may not come to Westgate is NOT a Metro format it's an Express, just like the one in Westbrook and Ramsgate.

I would have thought you would have looked into this and gots your facts right, so what else do you have wrong ?????

Anonymous said...

Well they've revived Westbrook, and in other places (notably Broadstairs) all surrounding shops have survived.

Simon Moores said...

Does it really matter whether we argue over the semantics of whether it's a "Metro" or an "Express?"

If I recall correctly, it was presented first as a Metro and if I'm correct, it's planned for Westgate, so I apologise for the error on my part confusing it with... err a Tesco!

Anonymous said...

It's not "semantics" at all, as the size would make a great difference on the amount of traffic & the effect on other shops (for a start a "Metro" has far more bargains to attract custom).

Simon Moores said...

Suit yourself... it's a Metro but I doubt that most of the population know the difference between the two or indeed really care!

Your point is?

Anonymous said...

My point is that you've made your mind up that you're opposed to it, so no amount of reasonable debate is going to sway you.

Simon Moores said...

Your point is that you don't see how how democracy works at the local level.

If I had been asked by residents to support a TESCO, a Metro, and Express or indeed a megastore I would have been obliged to reflect their opinions too. As it is, I'm presenting an argument supported by over 2000 signatures, which gives me a sense that opposition is valid and deserves proper recognition.

katie wolf said...

well done simon...your doing a great job!! please remember everyone against the proposed tescos to come and show your support if you can..the public meeting at the council chambers,cecil street,margate on wed 20th march 7pm...we are meeting outside the old margate library at 6:40pm...thanks to all the support we have had.katie wolf.

Anonymous said...

Democracy? I was asked to sign the anti-Tesco petition when in a local store, and when I said that I actually support it I was told to leave. If they wanted to be really democratic there would be a "for" and "against" poll, but of course they might actually find that the majority of people won't vote the way they want (as usual they insist that "no-one wants it" yet they're also saying that it will ruin other local businesses!).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kate, I also suggest that the pro-Tesco people make their voices heard.

Simon Moores said...

9:19 If you thought the process was flawed or wished to represent your own views in opposition, all you had to do was contact your local councillor, In this case it would be Tom King or Jodie Hibbert as I'm already engaged by the anti-Tesco group.