Sunday, May 18, 2008

Glossopdale Supermarket sweep part 3: Tesco

In our final post about Supermarket expansion and the (thus far attempted) transformation of Glossopdale, we turn to the veritable Dark Lords, Tesco.

'What about Tesco' you may ask? Well, putting aside the traffic problems their current store in Glossop causes we can reveal that they too have plans for expansion. We say 'reveal', but it is actually a reminder of information that is already in the public domain, with a certain amount of educated guesswork and speculation tagged on. But as usual, we are prepared to fall, as well as stand, by our predictions.

On 7th November 2007, the Glossop Advertiser (and not the Glossop Chronic, which is rather strange) featured a front page headline 'Supermarket on Stilts'* about Tesco's plans for Glossop. In the article, they outline their plan to relocate the store 'nearer to the Town Centre', although it was hinted that this would be 'in a different part of the (Wren Nest) site'. An exhibition of the plan was held on one day - the same day that the article in the paper was published!

Despite this, a follow up article, with more detail, was published a month later. It revealed that Tesco now wanted to construct another entrance to their store from High Street West, increase the number of parking spaces, and also expand the warehousing facilities on the site. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the plan was that the store would be raised 'on stilts' to allow an increase of parking underneath it.

Again, this 'softening up' exercise was concluded prior to a formal planning application being made, one which has still yet to materialise, but the November 2007 article stated that the application would be made 'next year' and that work would not start until at least 2009.

The psychology of the way all 3 Supermarkets have conducted their affairs in the area is highly significant. By presenting exhibitions on their own premises, on near to the planned sites, they control the perception of the plans, as well as the access to them. You effectively have to be a customer to take part, and you also have to know about it. In the case of Tesco a notification of a one day exhibition was posted on the day it took place - and a lot of people in the area don't receive that paper through their letterbox until the very same evening!

Having said that, despite the way Tesco managed the process to actively exclude people, it's actually possible to argue that more people will know about it than were it left to High Peak Borough Council. One only has to look at the fact that thousands of people in Hadfield literally woke up to Rossington Park one morning that shows how hard this Local Authority works to marginalise the people in the area as to major planning decisions that greatly affect their lives.

After all, it was this time last year that saw HPBC allowed Tesco to keep signs they had erected that had breached advertising consent rules. It seems you can do anything you like if you are Tesco.

In relation to all this, what is very interesting is if we recall a war of words in the press earlier last year centred on Surrey Street itself, a potential access road for any new development by Tesco. Residents wrote in to the Glossop Chronic to complain about any attempts to make Surrey Street accessible to more traffic. Others wrote in to counter that and berate residents for their 'selfishness', as if wanting to preserve a degree of calm outside one's front door was an offence. Chief amongst the hecklers was a Tory Councillor, Anne Worrall, and her letter can be read here (albeit cloaked in the emotive issue of the Wren Nest Mill apartments fire). Of course, she is more likely than anyone else to be aware of Tesco's plans, since she is on both the Environment and Regeneration committees of HPBC.

So why have Tesco delayed matters? Who knows? Perhaps HPBC have told them to do so.

But perhaps their plans lie elsewhere? Remember the recent news that the despised Ferro Alloys factory was to be demolished? - the Glossop Chronic told us that HPBC refused to disclose who the owner is. And then the news that Glossop North End AFC are looking to leave their ground of the last 50 years at Surrey Street and move to a larger site elsewhere - how did they get the money and why move now? Is it a coincidence that the Football Ground and Ferro Alloys are adjacent, and that these sites are 'nearer to the centre of Glossop', as desired by Tesco? Or do we have an over-active imagination? Only time will tell.

* Tesco 'Stores on Stilts' are springing up all over - just type the term in Google

No comments: