Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Halesworth Tesco: Please act now

I got an urgent email from Caroline Cranbrook. Apart from that Saxmundham's Waitrose replaced a rather poor offering from Somerfield, I agree that Tesco is neither wanted or needed in Halesworth and would be to the detriment of the town aesthetically and environmentally. Any trade it attracts will come at the expense of others who generally strive very hard to compete already.

If you oppose the present proposal for a Tesco in Halesworth, please write - urgently - to Waveney District Council. The deadline is Thursday 18 June.

Postscript: I am advised by Mr. Peter Eyres If you are within the 3-week deadline, you can post comments directly to the WDC planning application website. Outside this time limit, you can e-mail pbc.pbc@waveney.gov.uk just as you would a letter.  In some ways, e-mail is easier for the council.  If you use the website, the comment goes straight into the council's report and requires positive action to edit it down.

Halesworth Tesco Planning Application

As some of you may know, Tesco has applied for planning permission for a superstore in Halesworth, opposite the Co-op (Rainbow, which has recently spent £1m upgrading and wishes to enlarge its premises). Halesworth is a small market town, very much at ease with itself, and well-supplied with a variety of independent shops - two bakers, two butchers, two greengrocers, a deli, an organic shop, a wine merchant, fish shop, famous toy shop, excellent shoe shop, clothes shop, several stationers and booksellers, a small Spar, etc. In the surrounding area there are villages which still have one or more shops (eg Yoxford, Peasenhall, Stradbroke, Laxfield).

The area is known for the abundance, variety and quality of its independent food producers. These have developed and expanded because there are plenty of independent shops. It is these shops which are the seedbed and nursery for new and existing food producers. The effect of a superstore, such as the one proposed by Tesco, will be to drive these independent shops out of business. On the whole they are doing well, despite the economic downturn, but they operate on small margins and a Tesco superstore will have a devastating effect on them.

The local meat wholesaler, Bramfield Meats, supplies virtually all the local butchers, farm shops and farmers markets with meat (either indirectly by preparing local independent livestock farmers' meat for sale or directly by buying in local meat from the local abattoir). Bramfield Meats is very concerned about the effect Tesco will have on the butchers and farm shops and fears it will undermine their business. If this were to happen and Bramfield Meats were to close, it would be catastrophic for local livestock producers - and for the landscape which is grazed by sheep and cattle.

The Tesco proposal is for a superstore. It is far too large (22,500 sq ft). This is about a third bigger than the Somerfields/Waitrose supermarket in Saxmundham and in the wrong place. the population of Halesworth is ca. 5-6,000 (including children). Tesco is anticipating a throughput of about 7,000 shopping visits a week, so they anticipate attracting shoppers from the villages and market towns in the area. We know that the new Saxmundham Waitrose (on an existing site) has affected food shops in Aldeburgh, nearby farm shops and also the food shops in Saxmundham high street. In Beccles, where a large superstore opened a few years ago, shops next to Tesco are alright but those in the middle of the town are suffering. It is also in the wrong place and will bring traffic to a standstill on Halesworth 'ring road'.

If any of you have the time and value our unique local food economy, I urge you to write (NO EMAILS ALLOWED) to Waveney District Council with a letter of objection. I am attaching a leaflet (not prepared by me) which presents some of the arguments and gives details of the address for letters.
Letters must arrive at Waveney District Council by 18 June, should contain the Proposal Number DC/09/0455/FUL and should be addressed to

Planning Office
Waveney District Council
Town Hall, High Street
Lowestoft NR32 1HS.


Please consider the following matters and, if any of them concern you, write a letter to Waveney District Council before 18 June.

1. Should planning strategy be overturned?

Tesco wants to put a store on the Dairy Farm site - south of Angel Link and west of Saxons Way – an area which Waveney District Council had designated for housing and a Community Centre on a well landscaped site - Do you think much needed housing and a Community Centre close to the centre of the town should be sacrificed?

2. Disfiguring the town with a conspicuous building

A store on the higher ground of the Dairy Farm site will inevitably be conspicuous and out of character - Are you happy to see Halesworth disfigured in this way?

3. Additional traffic congestion and pollution

A store on the Dairy Farm site would undoubtedly generate more traffic congestion and pollution on Saxons Way which already handles more than 1000 vehicles per hour at peak times - Does this worry you?

4. Added risk of flash floods

A large car park and extensive building will have a fast run-off of rain water in storms and will increase the risk of flash floods (Halesworth had serious floods in 1968 and again in 1993) – Are you aware of and concerned about this added risk?

5. Should Halesworth be allowed to die?

The experience of many other towns as small as Halesworth (much smaller than Beccles) where Tesco has built stores has been that, far from making the towns more lively, these stores have led to devastation of the town centres with many shops closing and with the inevitable breakdown of community spirit. If that happened to Halesworth, the effect would be irreversible - Do you wish the town to take such a risk?

6. Would the town really benefit?

The proposed store would bring new jobs, but many of these would be part-time and any benefit would have to be offset against the job losses due to shops being forced out of business and closing; this in turn would damage their local suppliers and also local services such as sign writers, stationers, electricians, carpenters, etc - Are you convinced that the town would benefit?

If you are concerned, write NOW - before it is too late to: The Planning Office, Waveney District Council, Town Hall, High Street, Lowestoft NR32 1HS

Quote the following reference DC/09/0455/FUL and copy your letter to the Chairman of the Development Control Committee - each letter counts! Letters may be left at the offices of WDC in London Road, Halesworth.

For further information on the campaigns to stop Tesco ruining small towns see http://www.spig.clara.net/stoptesco/

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