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March 25, 2009

David squares up to Goliath

A growing tide of public opinion seems to be turning against the supermarket giant. Whenever and wherever Tesco announces plans for a new store, a local campaign springs up aimed at protecting their community’s smaller and independent retailers. At the last count, fourteen separate community campaigns were underway to try to halt the Tesco juggernaught

Scotland against Tesco

Tesco has submitted plans for a third Express store within one square mile in Edinburgh. It has targeted a site on Picardy Place for a new Tesco Express and lodged a planning application with the city council.
Many residents and traders fear the supermarket chain is swamping the neighbourhood, with an Express store on Leith Walk and a superstore on Broughton Road.
A leaflet campaign has been mounted against the move amid fears it will damage the strong mix of independent shops in the area. The campaign is urging people to object to the planning application before the deadline on Friday 20th March. Key objections include concerns about the traffic disruption and increased deliveries disturbing neighbours. For further information please see an article in the, 13th March 2009.

In January 2008 Tesco bought a town centre site in Tain. This came just weeks before a public inquiry was due to start into Tesco and Asda’s proposals to build out of town supermarkets.
In August 2008 Asda announced it would be withdrawing from the public inquiry, thus leaving the way clear for Tesco. In November 2008 Tesco submitted a detailed proposal.
However, on the 3rd March 2009 Tesco’s detailed planning proposals were refused. Councillors went against the recommendation of planning officials. The Councillors refused the application because of concerns about the proposed traffic management proposals and access to the site, and parking requirements. Please see an article in the Ross-shire Journal, 3rd March 2009 and an article on the 27th February 2009.

On the 9th March 2009, the Press and Journal reported that senior officials at Highland Council are investigating concerns from Councillors and residents about the way the application was handled by the authority. Tesco is expected to launch an appeal.

Ellon, Aberdeenshire
Tesco is applying for an extension, of 1,3000 sq m, to its store in Ellon. Local traders are concerned that a proposed extension at the Tesco store could have a serious impact on the future of the town centre.
If Tesco is given the go-ahead at its Balmacassie store, it will see the sales area increased by almost a third. As part of the original planning application, Tesco was restricted to 2,896sq ft for non-food goods such as DVDs, books, electrical and DIY items. The reason given for the restriction at the time was to “sustain” the viability of Ellon town centre.
Member of the Ellon Traders’ Association will meeting with Tesco representatives to discuss the application. For more information please see an article in the Evening Express, 21st January 2009.

The Linlithgow Against Springfield group is campaigning against a supermarket and hotel development on Blackness Road, Linlithgow. The group has been raising awareness of the 50,000 square foot supermarket and a 60-bed hotel development plan proposed by Kensington and Edinburgh Estates.
In December 2008, a new West Lothian Retail Capacity Study, carried out by the Halcrow Group for West Lothian Council, said that Linlithgow currently has ”adequate provision to meet local convenience shopping needs”. Please see an article in the Linlithgow Gazette, 12th December 2008.
A formal planning application has yet to be lodged , and West Lothian Council has requested a full environment and retail assessment from developers before submission.

Haddington, East Lothian
Tesco has submitted plans to East Lothian Council for a new 50,000 sq ft store and 24-hour petrol station at Gateside East, on the outskirts of Haddington.
Local shopkeepers and residents are concerned that by closing the smaller Tesco in the town centre and building a bigger store on the edge of town will leave it like a “ghost town”. For futher information please see an article in the Scotsman, 14th July 2008. Sainsbury’s has also lodged rival plans for a 35,000 sq ft superstore at nearby Gateside West.
According to an article in East Lothian News, 12th February 2009, the Council is undertaking a review of possible retail sites. Public consultation which will be based on a discussion paper will take place over 6 weeks in March and early April.

Banchory, Aberdeenshire
Tesco has confirmed that it plans to submit a planning application to open a 30,000 sq ft store in Banchory. Following a public consultation in March residents and traders have expressed concerns about the proposed store. Around a 120 people attended a public meeting on the 30th May organised by Banchory Community Council. Representatives from Tesco also spoke at the Banchory Community Council AGM on 9th June. For further information please see an article in the Deeside Piper, 5th June 2008.

Paisley, Renfrewshire
In January 2009 a new campaign group Stop Tesco Owning Paisley (STOP) was set up amid concerns that an application for a 138,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store at Renfrew Road would devastate the town centre. As well as preparing objections the group has set up a petition. Please see coverage in the Evening Times, 8th Janaury 2009.

In September 2007 Renfrewshire Council approved a planning application from Tesco to flatten the town’s existing stadium at Love Street and build in its place a 80,000 sq ft supermarket and car park. However, in 2008 it emerged that Tesco intends to develop a 130,000 sq ft Tesco Extra at Renfrew Road instead of the 80,000 sq ft store at Love Street, which originally got outline permission in 2005.
St Mirren had been trying to vacate their current ground at Love Street and find a buyer so that they could afford a move to a new stadium. The club had to sell to a supermarket chain as selling the ground for housing would not generate enough money. As part of the deal Tesco agreed to fund the building of a replacement stadium. Residents and traders in Paisley have expressed mixed feelings about the development, and Friends of the Earth Scotland has spoken out against it. For further information, see articles in The Herald from April 19th and April 20th 2007 and the Paisley Daily Express, 28th September 2007. An article in Property Week, 6th January 2009 reported that Tesco has bought the Love Street site, home of St Mirren football club for £15m.

Inverness has been referred to as a “Tesco Town” because Tesco have three out of the city’s four supermarkets and take 51p out of every £1 spent on groceries in Inverness. In 2006 Tesco applied for planning permission to build a fourth supermarket. It had already received outline planning permission but attempted to get plans for a bigger store approved. A local campaign got off the ground with many traders and residents feeling that Tesco should not be granted an even greater share of the market in Inverness.
In March 2007, the Council voted to refuse the application. See the Tesco Town website and local media coverage of the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse the application. Tesco appealed the decision but had its appeal turned down by the Planning Inspector. Please see coverage in the Highland News, 10th November 2007.
In early December 2008 Tesco’s revised proposals for a smaller 2,588 sq m store on the same site were given the green light by Councillors. This will be the fourth Tesco store in Inverness. Please see an article in the Highland News, 4th December 2008. An amendment was lodged calling for the plans to go before the full Council committee. In January 2009 this committee also approved the plan by 14 votes to 5. Please see an article on BBC news, 21st January 2009.

Stop Tesco Owning Partick
Campaign group Stop Tesco Owning Partick has been opposing proposals by Tesco since January 2007. The proposals for Beith St, in Glasgow’s West End, were for a 9,950 sq m 24-hour Tesco hypermarket, with student and private accommodation. After much public opposition, Tesco submitted new, slightly scaled down plans. Campaigners believe the scale and type of development is inappropriate to the area and too big. In July 2008, a Public Inquiry found in favour of the Tesco store. However, the future of the development is in doubt after a crucial parcel of land was sold to rival developers Glasgow Harbour – see an article from the Herald, 19th July 2008 for further information.
For more information on the campaign, see the campaign website, contact the campaign, see their sample objection lettersand see the campaign’s local media page here

Craiglockhart, Edinburgh
Residents protested against plans, already approved by Edinburgh Council, for a Tesco Metro that will be the third Tesco store in the area. Members of the Scottish Parliament and food writer Joanna Blythman have joined residents and traders in opposing Tesco’s plans. For further information, please see local media coverage of the campaign.

Galashiels Campaign to preserve former South of Scotland College of Textiles
Campaigners in Galashiels protested against Tesco’s plans to demolish an historic component of the townscape of Galashiels for a carpark for an extended supermarket. Tesco sought a judicial review to prevent the building’s listing. Residents felt that Tesco were bullying the council into granting them planning permission.
Campaigners celebrated in June 2006 when Tesco offered to rebuild the building in a different location.

Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway
Campaigners fought an application for a large Tesco in the small town of Castle Douglas in the Dumfries and Galloway region. Despite Castle Douglas’ status as a ‘Food Town,’ a designation intended to promote and link-up the town’s farming, tourism and independent retail, campaigners could not halt the Tesco application.
However, in November 2008 Tesco had it’s plans to build a petrol station rejected. Tesco had appealed to the Scottish Government to have their proposals approved after local councillors failed to deal with them within two months. However, after holding a public inquiry in the town in July, the appeal reporter dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission on the 12th November due to the negative impact the filling station would have on the landscape. Please see an article in the the Galloway News, 13th November 2008.

Portobello, Edinburgh
Campaigners successfully blocked an 85.000sq.ft. superstore development in the historic area of Portobello, Edinburgh. Although the end user was never revealed, local campaigners suspected it was an application from Tesco. The application rejection was met with dancing in the streets and an impromtu ceilidh.

People in North Berwick against Tesco (PINBAT)
PINBAT was launched in early 2006 to oppose a planning application in North Berwick by Tesco. The group organised a well-attended public meeting in North Berwick on February 2nd, 2006, and following this concentrated its efforts on getting the maximum possible number of formal objections submitted to East Lothian Council. 335 obejctions were submitted including 155 individually drafted. PINBAT also made an input into the ‘pre-inquiry changes’ phase of the Council’s 2005 Draft Local Plan. Support from campaigners at Portobello was of huge value in organising the public meeting and drafting objection letters. PINBAT organised lobbies at the site visit and Planning Committee Meeting of 3rd October 2006. East Lothian Planning Committee approved the application at the 3rd October meeting. PINBAT then focused on asking the Scottish Executive to call in the application and on making submissions to the Local Plan Public Inquiry. In December 2006 Tesco submitted an application to have noise constraints on the proposal weakened. Construction of the store started in April 2007.
For further information please see the local press coverage.

Dundee now has two massive Tesco stores, one on the Riverside and the other on the Kingsway, both of which are main ring roads. There is also a Tesco Metro in the city centre and 2 large Tescos in the vicinity of Lochee and Charleston (west Dundee). The only rivals to the large Tesco stores are an Asda and a Sainsbury’s, both of which are located to the East of Dundee.

What this means is that Lochee (which used to be a village by itself but is now part of Dundee West) has lost its vegetable shop, a butchers and a fish shop. It used to have a Kwik Save but it too closed after Tesco arrived. The local petrol station also closed because of Tesco.