Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tesco Express, Dinas Powys

The arrival of a Tesco Express in a village well-served by local shops was always going to be controversial. It’s a story familiar to communities all across the land. There have been no riots in Dinas Powys, in the Vale of Glamorgan, as occurred recently in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, but there has been significant opposition to the development. Advertising material has been torn down and “Local Shops - Use Them or Lose Them” signs have proliferated in the local butchers, greengrocers, pharmacy, post office etc.

The Tesco Express is replacing The Castle Oak pub, which shut down earlier this year. Although Tesco did not need planning permission to convert from a pub to a convenience store, they had to apply for planning permission for signage, the installation of air-conditioning units, an ATM, and a new shop front. The relevant Planning Committee meeting was held on 29 September.

When Tesco appeared to be working on the shop front weeks before this meeting, the “unauthorized” work created a local storm. The situation was exacerbated by the pavement being blocked, forcing pedestrians into the road. An 84-year old woman tripped on the kerb, banged her head, and needed hospital treatment. The elderly shopper was making her way to the Valley View Fruit Stores, owner by Jan and Tony Mapstone. They have run the local shop for 14 years and, like many local traders, consider the attitude of Tesco to be arrogant and cavalier. A Tesco spokesperson said that they had simply been improving the internal structure of the building.

It should be noted that not everyone in Dinas Powys is opposed to Tesco. One local resident expressed a typical view: “I for one will be using Tesco alongside the local greengrocers and butchers.”

The outcome of the Planning Committee meeting on 29 September was indecisive and a decision was deferred pending a site visit. This took place on Thursday 20 October at 3.15pm. The Planning Committee was met by a demonstration of protestors with placards.

Local Plaid Cymru Councillor Keith Hatton said: “Concerns are centered on the applications for an ATM (where one already exists next door in the newsagents) and the proposed non-illuminated gantry sign on the grassed area to the west of the site.” The proposed gantry sign was particularly contentious, being 3.2m high and 17m from the building; potentially dominating the approach to the shops.
The members of the Planning Committee returned to the Civic Offices in Barry for a Full Planning Meeting on the evening of 20 October. The outcome was that the signage situated away from the store was refused, but the ATM was deemed acceptable.

Tesco will be hard-pressed to open before Christmas, but work is now going full-steam ahead including Saturdays and Sundays. Tesco will be selling very little that is not already available in the shops of Dinas Powys. Furthermore, their produce is unlikely to be locally sourced, as it is in the Valley View Fruit Stores. It's not just about the local stores, remember, it's also about the local farms, bakers, pie-makers and other producers who sell through local stores.

When Tesco opens, it will be up to the community of Dinas Powys (and similar communities throughout the land) to either support their local shops or lose them.

I’ll post again here on developments.

Re: Comments below:
I agree about the Spar, which really does need to raise it's game if it is to survive.

1 comment:

  1. It will also be up to the local shops to make an effort as well. I avoid Tesco as much as i possibly can. However, given the choice between a clean, bright, well stocked shop and the mess that is the Spar or dingy cramped hole that is the veg shop I might be tempted. They really have to stop moaning about something they can't stop, cheer up and give their customers reasons to keep going back.

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