TESCO or not Tesco, that is the question?
The final decision on a controversial planning application by the supermarket giant is due to be made by councillors at a meeting at the Civic Offices on March 9.
For months various groups, including Tesno and Yesco, have pleaded their case for why a store on the former Aston Martin site in Newport Pagnell should or should not be given planning permission.
Milton Keynes Citizen gave the main protagonists a chance to put their arguements forward before the decision is made.
Over to you councillors...
Tony Fletcher, Tesco’s Corporate Affairs Manager:
If we are granted planning permission we believe very strongly that our plans would contribute to revitalising Newport Pagnell and regenerating the derelict former Aston Martin site on Tickford Street.
We respect Newport Pagnell as an attractive market town and believe there is room for both a successful high street, offering distinctive shopping and local services, and a small supermarket which will have enhanced, high quality links with the town centre.
One point to make is that it is not in our interests to harm local businesses by having a negative impact on the high street. This would make Newport Pagnell a less desirable place to shop in and to visit and therefore limit the success of a Tesco store in the town.
We know that groups like the Newport Partnership have worked hard to restore the high street in recent years and we would like to play our part in making sure it remains that way.
Peter Badham, a member of Tesco supporters Yesco:
I do not want to go out of town for my weekly shop. Tesco is offering somewhere cheap and convenient to get to, without threatening local stores in the town like the pharmacy, the butcher’s, the Post Office or opticians.
Tom Lonergan, Chairman of opposition group, Tesno:
Building a Superstore on this site contradicts Milton Keynes Council Planning Policy – The Local Plan for Newport Pagnell – which was published in 2007 and states on Page 13 that ‘the Aston Martin site is not a location for major retail development’.
Milton Keynes Council abided by their own Planning Policy in 2009 when the Tesco Application for a store half the size of this one was recommended for refusal 18 months ago.
I cannot see now, how Milton Keynes Council can possibly change their decision on this new application. The council will contradict its own Planning Policy for this site if they approve this application.
Every High Street has its own unique micro retail economy influenced by prevailing circumstances in its immediate vicinity.
With the success of Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre and the continued rise in Out-of-Town, or, Away from High Street Retail Parks, our High Street micro-economy is already very fragile.
Add to that the current recession, it would not take a lot to permanently damage the High Street now. There are over 60 local independent shops depending on footfall of people on the High Street for trade.
These customers will no longer be on the High Street if they are drawn away by another much closer Tesco Superstore only 700 metres away from the High Street with parking for over 230 cars.
We already have 10 Tescos within 10 minutes of the Town. The damage will be permanent.