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Whitstable Campaigns: Is It Tesco Or Isn't It?

Updated on September 14, 2016
Whitstable Views profile image

CJ Stone is an author and columnist. He appears regularly in the British press. Currently he has a column in the Whitstable Gazette.

Application

It seems that the planning application for the development of the Gladstone Road Post Office is still awaiting approval.

It is worth going on-line to look at the plans. The one entitled “Proposed Plan” quite clearly designates the retail unit as “Tesco”. This shows that, at one time at least, Tesco were definitely the intended occupier.

So what is it going on here? Is it Tesco, or isn’t it?

This is important because the rumour is that Tesco has been sniffing about in the town for new premises. Not satisfied with drawing the bulk of the trade to its superstore at the top of the hill, it now seems to want a presence on the High Street also.

This would be a disaster for Whitstable. It would mean goodbye to all the independent retailers: goodbye to Champs, goodbye to Theobolds, goodbye to Granny Smiths. Goodbye, in fact, to Whitstable High Street as we know it.

Hello to more chichi restaurants and shops catering to the tourist market.

Tesco would use economies of scale to undercut its rivals. None of the small retailers could hope to compete.

Even if it turns out not to be Tesco, but some other major supermarket, the effect would be the same.

Voracious

Of course, were you to make an objection to the planning committee on these grounds they would ignore you. Business or competition issues are not considered legitimate grounds for refusal.

In other words, the fact that a voracious, profit-hungry superstore in our midst could, quite conceivably, suck the heart out of our town, is irrelevant in planning terms.

Also irrelevant is the possibility that the supermarket will want to extend its premises out onto the High Street in the future. What other reason could there be for the developers having bought up all the shops immediately in front of the Post Office?

Tesco dominates the grocery market in the UK. This year it made over £3 billion in profit. Its trading practices distort the market and have serious consequences on suppliers, farmers and workers world-wide.

Tesco already has two shops in the town. Isn’t that enough?

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    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      We're not fans of Tesco, but when Rover cars disappeared, we suddenly had a big hole in the high street - and in a beautiful Art Deco building.

      It is now a Tesco Express. They've made a lovely job of the building, and it has brought extra life into what was a quiet part of the town centre. Car show rooms don't attract that much retail trade.

      We are about to loose the only town centre green grocers, but he says that is because the rent on the premises is going up.

      Apart from that, no appreciable effect on other food retailers. The Co-op and Morrisons seem as busy as ever.

      We were down to one independent butcher way before Tesco.

      It is very sad to see the growing uniformity of high streets, but better than empty shops.

      Your planning committee will be restricted by national planning laws.

      Tesco has a legal department with deep pockets and council funds are shrinking, so your planning officers may give cautious advice.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      Jane. I'd rather see a charity shop than an empty shop, but, yes, they are just part of the same epidemic. I haven't been to Whitstable for years, so I can't comment on it specifically, but I do know that most British towns have the same merry band of chain stores on the High Street, and frankly, it's depressing!

    • profile image

      janef 

      9 years ago

      I think the real worry is the increasing number of charity shops that provide little employment or variety and pay no business rates.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      Hi Chris. Tesco's certainly know how to make the most of their business, and they will offer good, steady employment for local people, so there's pros and cons with all these things. But the sad thing is that the British High Street is losing it's character as the chain stores, the supermarkets and other multiples storm our last bastions of individuality. People can of course vote with their feet and their wallets. They have that choice, but will they take it?

    • Whitstable Views profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitstable Views 

      9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Aye, we all go to Tesco bubblelass. It would be a surprise if we didn't. But Herbaceous, for example, while it does well out of its loyal trade, probably couldn't survive a Tesco on its doorstep which would definitely undercut.

    • bubblelass profile image

      bubblelass 

      9 years ago

      I hate trying to do a family shop in Whitstable. Somerfield was atrocious and budgens is worse, and the queues are dreadful. I try to get fruit and veg from local shops, esp the tankerton grocers they deliver :) for free! and other stuff from herbacious she's great too...although we often end up going to big tescos as its so convenient. I nearly wept when I saw that we're getting an Iceland...to think of all the parents who this will prevent from learning to cook. And I feel entitled to say that as someone who was once a young parent who had to teach themselves.

      A new tesco in town will have me reaching for the painkillers and vodka. And will the post office remain? I was telling my son the other day about all the post offices there uesd to be in the town and he was enchanted. maybe by the time he needs to post a parcel he'll have to go back to carrier pigeon.

    • profile image

      janef 

      9 years ago

      We already have the new Budgen overcharging for everything, and Iceland opens in October so cannot really see that a small Tesco Express is going to make much difference.

    • Whitstable Views profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitstable Views 

      9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Actually I agree about Tankerton, and you have to give it to Tesco, they know what their customers want. But I think it's a different thing in Whitstable, which is already well supplied with good independent shops and I do suspect that it would be the death of some of those if Tesco moved in.

    • fen lander profile image

      fen lander 

      9 years ago from Whitstable

      I don't know that it's entirely true that they always suck the life out of places- Tankerton seems to be coping quite well with the presence of Tesco in their midst. I'm not defending big-business and its voracious appetite to expand- but a case could be made that they have increased trade in Tankerton for small-traders who wouldn't see a passing 'consumer' all day if they weren't on their way to Tesco? I don't think it's as black and white as all that.

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