Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tesco Launch Another Appeal

Tesco have launched another appeal - this time against refusal to grant planning permission for refrigeration equipment on the existing building.

The recent public enquiry related to Tesco's extension application - the decision on this is expected towards the end of November. The latest appeal relates to a later application to allow refrigeration equipment on the existing sized building - it was their plan 'B' in case the extension application is refused. I think they have a much better chance of winning this latest appeal - I was predicting Councillors would pass it at the Area committee. It will also be decided by public enquiry.

I have to say I'm none too impressed with Tesco at this point. At the Conservative party conference I spoke to some of their public affairs people to put the point that many local residents were unhappy about the potential store, its effect on the viability of other local shops, and the transport implications from their delivery plans, and to ask if there was anything they would be prepared to do to mitigate these concerns. This was followed up with a call to them last week when they told me that they wouldn't take any decisions on whether to launch this latest appeal until after they had the results of the first public inquiry, so call back then - it was therefore a surprise to hear about todays appeal. I'm now left in the position where I'm not sure I'd believe anything they told me...


Ruth said...

Hi Chris,

So, another week, another appeal from Tesco... There are some very interesting issues involved in this one (well, okay, maybe they're not interesting to normal people, it may be just me). There is also a lot of fruitful research to be done on the Tesco acoustic evidence which, if possible, seems to get less convincing with every revision.

It would very interesting to see whether they would actually open in the existing building, even if they won. Two very interesting things came out of the inquiry: firstly, Tesco seemed genuinely unaware - and very disturbed to discover - that they have little to no chance of ever being allowed to sell alcohol on Mill Road.

Secondly, Tesco told the inquiry that the smaller format store apparently proposed here "has been carefully designed so that it can be easily extended in due course when [that's when, not if, apparently] the planning approval is forthcoming for the extension."
This reinforces my view that, the previous application having failed, they have tried to salami-slice the development - get approval for one bit, then the next, then the next.

Thank you for raising the issues you mentioned with Tesco themselves. Eventually you might even manage to get a straight answer out of them - which is more than anyone else has managed so far!

Thomas said...

Tesco have already ignored the clear wishes of a massive 5,000 people (is that a record?) who signed a petition against them coming. I'm afraid you must be naive in the extreme if you thought that tesco would listen and act on a request like yours ..

Had you sat in on the public inquiry, and listened to their bully-boy QC, as I did, you'd be under no misapprehensions of their unwavering intention to force a 14th tesco -owned store into Cambridge, whatever local opinion and whatever the effect on Mill Road's traffic or traders.

The fact that their PR people are at your party's convention is surely a telling sign of the sort of problems with big businesses like Tesco today. Perhaps the Conservatives should be concentrating on eliminating monopolies like Tesco are building instead.

Chris Howell said...

Hi Thomas,

I'm in no doubt Tesco will be doing all they can to open a store on Mill Road despite local opposition - because they believe enough local people will use the store to make it worthwhile. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be interested in trying to mitigate some of the concerns of local people.

What I am genuinely surprised at is how inept they have been at various points - on more than one occasion they just don't seem to have got their ducks in a row - which is a sign that maybe they aren't as invincible as preivously imagined.

Dare I suggest it is slightly naive to think that organisations like Tesco wouldn't want to talk to elected representatives - lots of organisations large and small have public affairs departments to press their particular case. Transparancy and openness is a much better response to this than merely attacking large businesses - although abuse of monopolies is something government regulators should (and generally are) constantly concerned about...