April 2015: Although Tesco has managed to get its alcohol licence for the old HSBC bank premises on Haverstock Hill, the essential parking arrangements remain to be sorted and agreed with Camden.
However, to date it appears that Tesco has not submitted an application to Camden for parking and unloading its trucks. The company may be rethinking its strategy after seeing the level of opposition from Belsize residents (and at a time when Tesco is retrenching elsewhere). Reasonably good news for the time-being, but we cannot relax unless and until there is confirmation that the company is dropping its plans to open at this location.
On the BBC Today radio programme on 7 February there is a Thought for the Day which is a moving reminder from Martin Rowe of the human cost paid by independent shop keepers.
Listen here: Skip to 50 minutes into programme.
Campaign to Stop Tesco opening in Belsize
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
and please write to the local press to say how you feel about Tesco coming to Belsize with a copy email to us
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view video highlights of the meeting
Introduced by Dame Janet Suzman
On 20 January at St Stephen's about 150 people attended. Tesco sent four people who it was hoped would respond to our questions – but they could not, or would not, answer any questions posed, merely saying they would hold their own consultation meeting in their own time. Despite the overwhelming anger and hostility towards Tesco and the numerous speakers relating issues with existing Tesco sites in Camden, they seem determined to crack on.
The good news is that although it appears the company has signed a lease it is contingent upon the transport and parking situation being resolved, as well as the alcohol licence (which has now been granted).
Grounds to object
We need to get the application turned down on the grounds that the very large Tesco trucks cannot park safely on Haverstock Hill and trying to turn around may well cause serious danger to residents, children and shoppers. Tesco store delivery trucks can’t be made smaller and Haverstock Hill will be one of the routes for trucks arriving and departing the proposed HS2 construction project.
See also No Tesco in Belsize Park video here...
Emma Thompson fights new Tesco
Oscar-winning actress tells the supermarket chain wherever they go 'the local feeling is destroyed' by their staff. Read full article...
One Bank too many for Beacon Hill
Boston’s zoning commission approves new rule that requires going through a zoning board of appeals before opening. Read full article...
Summary of the Tesco situation by Jessica Learmond-Criqui
There are two Tesco stores within five minutes walk both north and south of this proposed location. There are eight independent traders out of 45 shops on this parade who are likely to lose their livelihoods if Tesco bulldozes through in the company's normal manner. Tesco has recently applied for an alcohol licence. Typically, these permissions are applied for by Tesco in a piecemeal manner.
We understand from the public meeting we held at St Stephen's on 20 January – when four representatives of Tesco turned up – that the company has signed a lease but it is subject to them obtaining planning permission for an alcohol license, agreeing the transport/delivery situation and other supplementary permissions. A member of the community who is a film maker has made a film record of the meeting and will offer it to the BBC as a follow up to the Panorama programme about Tesco, its culture and its behaviour towards its suppliers. Watch the video here...
The first and most important step for us is to have the application for an alcohol license kicked out by Camden. That would deliver a body blow which would see them rally, but we would have some time to regroup too. Doing that is not easy because there are only four grounds of objection which relate to health and safety and crime. But we are working on that. Transport and parking is a very important issue.
There's been a lot of press coverage on this with more to come soon and we need more fire power because following the public meeting, Tesco has battened down its hatches and are motoring on regardless of public opposition. Andrew Thornton has organised a petition which has garnered 3,000 signatures. Still, like Mike Tyson, Tesco keeps coming and refuses to believe they are not wanted in Belsize.
If the BBC Panorama programme is to be believed, Tesco is a behemoth astride the slender backs of its suppliers who they crush under the weight of their avarice. As a community in the wake of their obduracy, we are being crushed too and are trying hard to fight back but we need more fire power to unseat Tesco.
Chair of the Hampstead Shops Campaign
Objection Letter to Camden 14 January 2015
I wish to register my objection to the granting of a licence to Tesco to sell alcohol on the site of the former HSBC bank on the corner of Haverstock Hill and Belsize Grove.
Not only is there already a Tesco store about 7 minutes walk away in Englands Lane, but there are 3 existing stores in the same block of shops licenced to sell alcohol. These shops are well used and cherished by local residents, and my fear is that Tesco would undercut them with the sale of cheap alcohol and force them out of business, leaving residents with no choice.
With alcoholism a curse of our modern society especially among the young, the availability of cheap booze is not desirable as it will only contribute to the problem. I trust that you will decide not to grant this licence to Tesco.
Belsize Grove resident
Email to Catherine Sprent, Tesco Corporate Affairs January 2015
I am a Tesco customer and appreciate your company's efforts to provide good value quality groceries but I am extremely concerned about your plans to open a branch on Haverstock Hill. I have seen the effect of such branches on congestion and parking in other areas and fear this would be disruptive and potentially dangerous in Belsize Park. (You will be aware of a spate of horrific accidents recently and attempts to make the road lay out safer: having large lorries blocking the view for pedestrians is the last thing we need).
Furthermore your application is likely to drive rents on the high street beyond the means of local businesses that give the area its specific character. I live opposite the site in question but get all the Tesco products I want from your other nearby stores.
Email to Claire-Louise Leyland at Camden Council 27 January 2015
More Schools per Capita in the Belsize Area
Social responsibility; If you permit the sale of alcohol from this outlet, it will expose our children to cheap unhealthy food leading to obesity. By increasing the footfall, through the sale of alcohol, the adults will take the children through the store, and children will be tempted to buy this unhealthy food.
I walk into Tescos and it is wall-to-wall bulk, cheaply manufactured, high profit, unhealthy processed food, such as crisps, biscuits and chocolate – all in shiny attractive packaging. In one shop, near a school I taught in, they were selling four Snickers and Bounties for 25p each (4 for a pound) – and you expect children/adults to resist a bargain like that? Sugar is more addictive than heroine, Tesco knows this. They are grooming children to become addicted to sugary products. The fruit and veg area in this Tesco was barely noticeable. Later I saw some kale for sale in a street shop for 99p. Which one had better nutrition and long term health benefits? No prize for guessing what human nature leads us to buy first.
Camden will end up having massive obesity health care problems and social care issues if they continue down this road of encouraging unethical retailers such as multiple Tescos in this borough. We already have one within 4 minutes walk of Belsize Grove.
One is enough, no more Tescos.
Reply from Cllr Theo Blackwell
The work we work on public health cites obesity as a major issue but let me assure you Camden does not "encourage unethical retailers" – the ability to open up a shop is governed by national laws.
But again there are some wider issues here – Tesco is not the only outlet to do this – or sell sugary cereals marketed by manufacturers at kids or cheaper fatty goods. There has been action to stop fast food retailers near schools, but here perhaps there is an opportunity to approach Tesco to set up a voluntary agreement not to market cheap sweets (£1 large chocolate bars etc), if they do, at this outlet?
Cllr Theo Blackwell
28 January 2015
Furthermore Theo – this is a Conservation Area, giving the council additional special powers, I am lead to understand. In my experience Theo, the promoting of cheap-to-produce, unhealthy foods appears to be far greater in Tesco stores than in other stores I have visited. Pop into the Tesco in Kentish Town for example, you will see wall-to-wall shiny multi-packs of crisps and biscuits as you enter.
I only have to watch the video of the meeting with Tesco [representatives] in St Stephen's, and listen to people's experience of dealing with Tesco, to understand that the Tesco response to 'voluntary agreements' is negligible.
Email to Cllr Theo Blackwell 29 January 2015
While Tesco may not be the only retailer to sell cheap confectionary, they do have 38% market share of the food market in the UK. That must mean that a sizeable proportion of health problems associated people who eat processed food or confectionary may be down to them – perhaps as much as 1 in 3 people.
I and others are working on trying to put some statistics together of the problems on obesity and diabetes faced by the NHS and its overstretched budget and the incidence of such health problems being caused by cheap confectionary and processed food. The link between cheap confectionary, Tesco and the NHS’s budget may not be as far fetched as it seems at first sight.
Ham&High 29 January 2015
Further articles ablout Tesco:
Around 2,000 Teasco workers will loose their jobs...
Tesco To Use Facial Recognition Cameras To Target Adverts...
No to Tesco...
The town at war over the arrival of Tesco...
Andrew Thornton suggests from here:
- Tesco's application for an alcohol licence will be granted subject to the results of the public hearing – February 12 seems to be the day; more on this when we know it.
- We hope to make our deputation on Monday January 26 – again more info when confirmed.
Please write to Tesco and make your views known to them – details on how to do this here.
Further Comment on Cllr Theo Blackwell's Blog 1 February 2015
You are right that the current national laws do not stop certain shops opening where they like. However, in Camden, Development Policy 12 permits the Council to “ensure that the development of shopping, services, food, drink, entertainment and other town centre uses does not cause harm to the character, function, vitality and viability of a centre, the local area or the amenity of neighbours”.
It is bound to consider “the cumulative impact of food, drink and entertainment uses taking into account the number and distribution of existing uses”. It has also noted that “New shops, service, food, drink and entertainment uses can add to the vitality and vibrancy of Camden’s centres and local areas. However, they can also have other impacts such as diverting trade and displacing existing town centre functions. As a result, the Council will seek to guide such uses to locations where their impact can be minimised.”
DP 12 also states that “the Council will not grant planning permission for development that it considers would cause harm to the character, amenity, function, vitality and viability of a centre or local area.”
This is not a campaign to ban Tesco outright. It is a campaign to stop Tesco coming to this location. There are 2 Tesco shops within 5 mins walk North and South of this site. This parade of shops is a fairly stable parade where shops have been occupied for long stretches of time. It is a balanced parade with 8 independent traders who sell goods which will compete with Tesco when it opens. They are likely to go out of business if Tesco arrives.
As you know, independent traders are the heart of our community. This is accepted as a universal truth by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London in his London Plan, by the House of Commons All Parliamentary Party Small Shops Group, the New Economic Forum and, of course by Camden Council’s development policies. These deep thinkers of our time consider it a public good to promote and protect our independent traders.
Given the threat to at least 8 independent traders (out of 45 shops) on Haverstock Hill, how can it be said that Tesco’s coming in to Haverstock Hill will not cause harm to the character, amenity etc of this parade?
DP26 states that “The Council will protect the quality of life of occupiers and neighbours by only granting permission for development that does not cause harm to amenity.”
A petition signed by 3,700+ people was handed to the Mayor of Camden on Monday this week. They were all against Tesco opening up on Haverstock Hill. They don’t want to see their independent traders pushed out of business and they enjoy the amenity of a shopping parade which is populated by many independent traders.
Tesco has a place and an offering which other communities are screaming for but which they abandon. Here is a community which does not want them.
This campaign is about protecting the amenity of a community, which will be prejudiced if Tescos does open in this location. This is not a campaign about stopping low prices for those who want them. It is about balance of shops on the shopping parade and protecting our independent traders who cannot compete against Tescos. The low prices argument, therefore, is a red herring.
While we are a community and we live cheek by jowl, you will be all too aware that the voice of the people is often drowned out by the cacophony of sound of the big corporates. That voice needs to be redressed and rebalanced and you are well placed to give effect to the wishes of the people.
Will you and others help us to protect the independent traders in our community? This is not an exclusive campaign and we do welcome all the help that we can get.
Email from Allan Mullan 13 February 2015
This smear campaign seems a bit redundant and very self absorbed. I live in Belsize Park and I don't feel that we are, in any shape or form, a "village" as we have Giraffe, Starbucks, Pizza Express, Costa (which I'm very thankful for), but to name a few very large retail chains.
Why does having a Tesco make Belsize any worse, I think it would help bring some healthy competition to Belsize if anything. Or, is your website associated with the smear campaign that Budgens is also running?
I feel like this campaign is over running Belsize at the moment and IT is what is ruining this area.