Friday, March 22, 2013

The Fight Continues in Westgate

News of the great Tesco revolt in Westgate-on-Sea made the front page of today's Thanet Gazette and tomorrow, barring the sudden arrival of a tidal wave or a passing meteor, to interrupt the news, I will be discussing the town's main objections on the Pat Marsh Show on BBC Radio Kent at 7:07am. So please tune-in for the latest.

The Paper reports: "Councillors Kay Dark, William Hayton, Rosalind Binks and Steve Alexandrou all said they were completely against the development, while Rick Everitt and Shirley Tomlinson said that a site visit is needed – but both were struggling to find reasons to refuse the application on planning grounds."

Lucy Wolf's Facebook Page "SayNoToTescoInWestgate" has been a great success and please add it to your favourite groups if you are a Facebook user and against the application.

There is now a new petition you can complete and share with others who may also object. You can find this via the Facebook group or in hard copy at the Edwards Store in Westgate. The aim here is to narrow down the objections to a petition that carries proper arguments in planning law and which is much harder to dismiss.

Here's what it says:

"We, the undersigned, call upon Thanet District Council to reject the currently proposed scheme F/TH/12/0769 (The TESCO Proposal) on the grounds that: 

1. It does not comply with Local Plan Policy TC1, paragraph 2, in that there is no demonstrated need for the proposal, it is of an inappropriate scale, and there has been no assessment of the development’s impact on the local area. 

2. It does not comply with Local Plan Policy TC8, as there is no demonstration of meeting a local need, it does not widen the choice, quality or range of shopping facilities. 

3. Furthermore it does not accord with the guidance notes of paragraph 4.87 or 4.88 of the current Local Plan. 

4. We consider the highways provision for the proposed Tesco, to be wholly inadequate on road traffic; parking and pedestrian safety grounds, and urge Kent County Council to reconsider its report in the light of public concern. Further the detrimental effect the highways proposal could have on Emergency Services, this being a major bus route."

I have to run off to a conference but more tomorrow and perhaps even a change of subject!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your efforts.

Thinking over things after Wednesday's meeting, it is worth pointing out a few things:

(1) My own objection (and I'm sure the objection of most) is not simply anti-Tesco. I would still object if it were Sainsburys, Asda or even Waitrose. My objection is to a building, totally out of keeping with the unique character of Westgate. How a building with a frontage approximately 6 times that of the average shop in Westgate can even be considered (let alone in a conservation area) shows that the planning and conservation officers involved have absolutely no regard for the unique street scene of Westgate. I also object on the basis that the development is neither needed nor desirable.

(2) It was very worrying to hear that some councillors felt unable to find any basis in planning to reject the application in spite of the very detailed work done by Martin Powell, among others. It would appear that they are unaware of the very valid and very obvious contraventions of the Thanet District Adopted Local Plan 2006:

POLICY TC1 - NEW RETAIL DEVELOPMENT

OUTSIDE THESE DEFINED CORE AREAS AND EXTENDING OVER LAND AT WESTWOOD DESIGNATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICIES TC3, TC4 AND TC5, ALL APPLICATIONS FOR RETAIL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE REQUIRED TO DEMONSTRATE THE NEED FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT, AND
a. THAT THERE IS NO SEQUENTIALLY PREFERABLE LOCATION,
b. THAT THE DEVELOPMENT IS OF AN APPROPRIATE SCALE,
c. THERE IS NO UNACCEPTABLE IMPACT ON THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF EXISTING CENTRES, AND
d. THE LOCATION IS ACCESSIBLE.

Let me take these 3 points:

REQUIRED TO DEMONSTRATE THE NEED FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT
There is quite simply no need for this. We have the Co-op, Edwards, Forbuoys, a newsagent opposite, a delicatessen and Best-One in St Mildred's Road. These are all convenience stores providing top-up shopping only. Therefore, we do not need another "convenience store, aimed at top-up shopping only" (in their own words).

DEVELOPMENT IS OF AN APPROPRIATE SCALE
A building with a frontage of no less than 6 times the average shop frontage in Westgate is not of an appropriate scale.

NO UNACCEPTABLE IMPACT ON THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF EXISTING CENTRES
As mentioned last night, Westgate is in a state of retail equilibrium. Specifically this relates to convenience and top-up shopping. The proposed development would most certainly have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the town.

POLICY TC8 - DISTRICT AND LOCAL CENTRES

PROPOSALS FOR ADDITIONAL SHOPPING PROVISION AT TRADITIONAL DISTRICT AND LOCAL CENTRES WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THE PROPOSALS MEET A LOCAL NEED, WIDEN THE CHOICE, QUALITY OR RANGE OF SHOPPING FACILITIES AND ARE OF A SCALE APPROPRIATE TO THE PARTICULAR CENTRE*.

Dealing with each of these:
MEET A LOCAL NEED - NO (as already discussed)
WIDEN THE CHOICE - NO (Tesco products are not sufficiently different to those available in the 6 shops already mentioned)
QUALITY OR RANGE - NO (Tesco products are of no better quality and offer no greater range)
SCALE APPROPRIATE - NO (the council should look at the out-of-scale frontage, not just the floor area - would they also accept planning permission for a building 100m long provided it did not exceed 1000sqm?)

(3) One councillor seemed to imply that it was impossible to say no to Tesco because they are too powerful. This is not only a false basis for decision-making but also completely untrue in recent times, as demonstrated by the many examples of successful opposition to Tesco. Tesco also have a serious image problem (http://news.sky.com/story/1054183/tesco-supermarket-bottom-of-which-survey); building unwanted stores will not help this.

Anonymous said...

Sounds more and more like a serial bunch of Nimbys who probably objected to the invention of the wheel!! (I think the term is Luddites)

Anonymous said...

No this is not nimbysm and is more about trying to keep the wheels on the wagon.

Anonymous said...

But surely tesco will create jobs. It might kill a few off in the surrounding area, but tesco as big employer. You would want to stop them would you

Anonymous said...

At least a local Tesco would help save the planet...As I would not have to drive to westwood to do my shopping at a reasonable price!!

Simon Moores said...

It's actually a Tesco Express which sells a limited range of goods. Not a big store.

Anonymous said...

Not a big store.....That's not what you were suggesting on the Radio this morning Simon. Also what difference does it make where somebody lives if they are fully trained in their profession ? Finally you suggested that KCC are rolling over regarding perceived highway problems, but if I recall, didn't they oppose the recent Sainsburys application in Westgate on highway grounds ? feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that people work together in something that they believe in, but they should also show some respect for other peoples views and opinions. There seems to be a genuine lack of this and it threatens to compromise what should be a democratic process.

Anonymous said...

I am a local resident and I attended the meeting on Wednesday.

Simon I find it strange that you felt so hard done by, being cut off during your speech, when you appear to find it acceptable for the objectors to shout down any opinion that differs to theirs mid-speech. The lady from the flower shop speaking in support was treated particularly poorly, she is entitled to her opinion like everybody else and should be allowed to voice this without being Heckled. Not the makings of a true democratic process in my mind which you should be encouraging as ward councillor.

The flower shop lady said she represents traders at her end of Station Road. Isn't this the area that would be most impacted by traffic, parking and views out to the new store if they are so bad ? yet they appear unconcerned.... strange.... although none of these are in direct competition with Tesco.

The site visit appeared to be the councillors response to the hostile crowd, I'm glad I didn't offer to speak in support given the lack of respect shown to anybody speaking in favour of the proposals !

Simon Moores said...

1:53.. Where I wonder does it state or imply I'm in favour of bad manners? That's either interrupting my speech or that of anyone else in the chamber?

I think you are referring to Lorraine from Molly's bar who represented Tesco, the applicant, at the meeting.

The flower shop is "Chris", Beano's is "Jimmy" etc and I believe I'm aware of the views on the eastern end of Station Road, where shops stop at the pet store; the most likely to have problems with any HGV's delivering.

Anonymous said...

Dear Simon

RE: 12/0769 - PROPOSED TESCO -
Former Goods Yard, Westgate-on-Sea

Under National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) you will know that a new build in a Conservation Area must make a 'positive contribution to the character, appearance or historic value of the area'. The current application fails this key test and will have a negative impact on conservation area integrity.

Westgate-on-Sea is an early high quality example of a Victorian planned new town and an influential precursor to Ebenezer Howard's garden city movement. While the architecture and craftsmanship is of high quality, it is the integrity of the intact 1870's planned townscape that defines the character of the Conservation Area.

In Conservation Areas NPPF 128 and NPPF 141 stipulates that, 'Local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting... As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary'.

This has not been adequately addressed. Given the absence of the mandatory detailed Heritage Assessment we believe the local planning authority should refer this major project for a national design review as detailed in NPPF 62.

NPPF 60 requires designs to 'to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness'. This poorly conceived, cost driven scheme design fails to reflect Westgate's unique vernacular style and specifies inappropriate materials like UPVC rainwater goods. It, therefore, fails to make the 'positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness,' required by NPPF 126 and 131 or deliver the 'deliver high quality outcomes' stipulated in NPPF 59.
NPPF 132 and 137 require that 'great weight should be given' to ensure that Conservation Area development will 'preserve those elements of the setting that make a positive contribution to or better reveal the significance of the asset'. This development does the opposite.

Large swathes of irreplaceable protected historic wrought iron railings will be removed. It will obscure and damages important views in and out of the conservation area and the loss of planned town conservation area integrity will fatally undermine the Conservation area integrity.

From a conservation perspective, in accordance NPPF 63 and 64, we believe that permission should be refused for this development on the basis of a 'poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions'.

Yours sincerely
Jonathan Simmons - Chairman

Anonymous said...

I have installed fridges and checkouts in new tesco sites for the last 10 years. Its amazing how hostile some residents can be but by the same token how often they use the convenience of the store. Westgate needs a tesco. They bring competition to the monopoly created by the co-op and give choice to the buyer. People need to move with the times and face facts that in what is now a multi cultural society, right or wrong, people need choice. I seriously doubt that the effect will be negative and will strengthen Westgate