Monday, 21 March 2011

Tesco Taking Over

A new Tesco store has been approved for construction in Moseley, in the face of overwhelming opposition from local residents. Despite more than 2000 signatures gathered on petitions against the new store, and an initial rejection from the local council planning committee, the new development will be built on the derelict Meteor Ford site, and will consist of a Tesco store, sheltered housing and a medical centre.

An article in the local press gave a very one-sided look at the impact of Tesco stores, ignoring all the evidence of trade being taken away from local shops, the benefits of spending money with local businesses where that money is then recycled into the local community and not mentioning the business practices they use which trample over small producers and farmers

Residents are primarily opposed to the new store because of fears that it will divert trade away from local independent businesses. The developers claim that the store is needed to win back a market share in the surrounding areas of Hall Green, Kings Heath and Small Heath. This is unlikely however, as the store will not be large enough to detract from large supermarkets in the area, but still large enough to draw business away from Moseley High Street. Again, developers claim that the types of businesses in Moseley are generally high end shops and so will not be in direct competition with Tesco. However, the examples they cite as high end shops are all food retailers, and it is hard to believe that a supermarket primarily selling food will not be in direct competition with independent food outlets such as sandwich shops and bakeries.

Furthermore, the location of the new store is on the outskirts of Moseley as opposed to in the centre, which poses the problem of convenience. As it is based away from the main shopping area in Moseley, shoppers are less likely to utilise the Tesco for goods which were not available in the High Street. It is more likely that they will simply fulfil all of their shopping needs at Tesco, which will definitely take business away from local retailers.

The other major concern is that of increased traffic congestion around the site. The proposed plans have allowed for 103 parking spaces, which for a store of this size is relatively low. Add to that visitors to the health centre and residents, and the amount of parking really seems inadequate. The new store will most likely attract interest from outside of Moseley, such as commuters passing by and residents from other constituencies. All of these factors will lead to increased traffic passing through Moseley, as well as inevitable congestion due to the lack of parking.

Delivery vehicles will be accessing the site via a residential road, which will cause additional traffic problems, but more significantly will increase the levels noise disturbance experienced by residents, particularly during out of hours deliveries. Certain plans have been put into place to make the roads more suitable for increased traffic and encourage public transport and walking to the site. However, due to the size of location of the store, it seems unlikely that many shoppers will use alternatives to simply driving there.

Just five years ago there were only three major Tescos in Birmingham. Now, including Tesco Express shops, there are 33 stores across the city. Changes in legislation in recent years has made it easier for companies to expand, due to it now being much more difficult for councils to turn down planning applications unless they directly affect other planned building developments. It a disgrace that despite Moseley residents clearly not wanting a large supermarket in their area, and doing everything they could to stop it, the plans will go ahead. The developers have "apologised" for bullying the council into getting their way, but this is no consolation to the people who will be affected. Big supermarkets are rarely stopped and are forcing more and more independent retailers to close, leaving empty retail units all over town.

The hope is that this doesn’t discourage protest against future developments of a similar nature. Councillors voted equally for and against the plans, and it was only due to this tied situation that a further vote had to be cast and the decision went ahead. So don’t be disheartened, some people are listening, the core strategy consultation has included a number of anti-supermarkets comments, so let's hope these are now included to protect our local businesses.

Joe Osborne

1 comment:

Baza said...

I really doubt the people who would shop at Tesco would be the same people who would buy their bread at an artisan bakers or independent whole food shop. The impact is most likely going to be on the Sainsbury's on the High St, other shops won't be effected.

Impact on the local environment. It can't be worse than the traffic snarl up during the school run.

Tesco seems to be a good place to work according to people I know who work for them.

Farmers and Overseas.

Buy shopping at Tesco and asking for 'sustainable''fair trade' product will have far more impact than objecting and losing.

Moseley's shopping street is rather grim and run down, there's always drunks and druggies on the square outside Zen. New big shops like Tesco can only improve the place IMHO.