Surrey Planners Value Retail Diversity And Vitality


Surrey Heath’s planning applications committee met on March 2014, with one highly contentious item on the agenda. This was a joint application by Tesco Stores and Thames Valley Housing Associations  to demolish Pembroke House on the Frimley Road in Camberley and replace it with a three storey building to comprise class A1 retail use on ground floor with 14 two bedroom flats above.

The committee rejected the application for the second time, voting 11 to 5 to reject the application. The meeting is extensively covered in this week’s Camberley News.

The Tesco business model seems to want to place a Tesco Express or Tesco Metro store in every shopping arcade in the country. One can appreciate that vision, and there are many customers who like to shop with Tesco. What this does is drive out diversity and originality and replace it with bland uniformity.

Residents and councillors in Lightwater fought hard to prevent the DIY/Hardware store in Lightwater’s village shopping centre from becoming a Tesco Express convenience store. Two planning applications were rejected by the planning applications committee, though the planning inspectorate granted the application on appeal by Tesco.

Subsequently, Marks and Spencer have been granted planning permission for a M&S Simply Food convenience store in Lightwater’s BP Filing Station.

You could conclude that Lightwater has convenience store diversity, with Tesco, M&S, and Budgens. Two big supermarket chains with no local connections, no desire to build a village retail community.

Most of the shops in Lightwater are community aware, with such as the village Fayres in the Square, or Hammond School Experience Day. It’s sad that Tesco isn’t keen on doing this.

I wish the objectors to Tesco Express on the Frimley Road much success when it’ll inevitably goes to appeal.


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