Another Tesco?

Residents say third supermarket planned for Askew Road

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Residents living around Askew Road say they are concerned a new Tesco is being planned at the site of the former Bull and Bush pub.

A planning application has been submitted to alter the site at 93 Askew Road to create a commercial unit on the ground floor and four one-bedroom flats on the first and second floors. The supporting documents make no mention of Tesco, but local residents are suspicious.

“Very many local residents and many of the Askew Road shopkeepers/businesses are quite dismayed that despite the wording in the application documents, this application we have before us is in reality a change of use from a public house (A4) to a supermarket (A1). A quick investigation into the speciality of the agent will confirm that his claim to fame is for 'the preparation of planning appraisals to facilitate the introduction of new convenience goods stores'. Tesco is listed as the agent's no.1 client,” said Annabel Clarke, on behalf of the Cathnor Park Area Action Group and Askew Road ShopWatch.

Another clue is the plan to create an area at the rear of the building to accommodate two 'Euro bins', which was also in the planning application for the Sainsbury's currently being built further along Askew Road. The plan for “The replacement of the pub shopfront and installation of automatic double doors to serve the ground floor unit,” would also appear to fit a Tesco-style format.

The planning application documents state that deliveries to the site will take place between the hours of 6.30am – 8am Monday to Saturday, 9.30am – 4.30pm every day and 6.30pm-9pm Monday to Saturday. “It is proposed that all servicing will take place on-street from Askew Road. It is envisaged that all service vehicles will approach the site from the north. If a bus is dwelling at the stop adjacent to the site, the service vehicle will wait until it has departed before continuing to the service area,” the application says. The documents also estimate that the deliveries, which are likely to take place once a day, will take between 25-45 minutes.

Residents are concerned about the potential noise, which will come on top of any disturbance made by deliveries to the Royal Mail counter soon to open at the Askew Road Library next door: “We consider that the closest residents will be affected by noise from deliveries when the supermarket is operational and most particularly as the RMG will also be delivering to the rear of the ground floor of the Askew Road Library which is adjacent to this property,” said Annabel Clarke.

In terms of appearance, the application stresses that the building's original features will be retained as far as possible: “The sensitive conversion, minor extension and associated works will respect the established form of the building and enhance the character and appearance of the area.”

The local community groups say they want to see the “very tired building” restored to its former glory: “We are pleased that the existing chimneys are to be retained which are a particular feature of this building,” said Annabel Clarke. “To the best of our knowledge no-one has any issue with this change of use to create four self-contained one-bed flats,” she added.

However, many fear that if a Tesco does open, more smaller stores will be put out of business in a street that already has more than its fair share of boarded-up shopfronts: “The proposal to have a third supermarket on Askew Road is deeply unsettling to most local residents and businesses. Although there are a small minority of employees on Askew Road and residents who welcome Tesco as they consider that it will be cheaper than the existing Co-Op and the future Sainsbury Local but even they are aware that three major retailers in the Askew Road will ultimately force the closure of some of the existing convenience stores. There are also a few residents and niche businesses who consider that another major supermarket at this particular location (next door to the RMG Inquiry Office) will enhance the viability of Askew Road due to the increased footfall,” said Annabel Clarke.

It is still not clear when a decision will be made on the application: “There's no date yet for when this will come before the planning applications committee and no decision has been made. As always, we cannot speculate on the outcome of an application, as all applications are judged on their own merit when they come before committee,” said a Council spokesperson.

We asked Tesco to confirm whether they were behind the Askew Road application or not and still await their reply.

However, at a recent London Assembly meeting on the future of small shops, Emma Reynolds, Government Affairs Manager at Tesco, argued that supermarkets brought jobs and new investment to an area. “There's evidence where we have opened in an area, surrounding stores have actually increased their customers because people have been brought into the area,” she said.

To have a look at the application, click here.

Yasmine Estaphanos

March 6, 2010