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