Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

EDF: The Nuclear Power Campaign

EDF - Postponement (December 2012)
EDF - Opposition (March 2013)
EDF - The Silent Nuclear Approval (March 2013)
EDF - Planning Consent (19th March 2013)
EDF CEOVincent de Rivaz,

  • The French boss of EDF Energy has been  personally invited by the Prince of Wales, to be awarded an honorary CBE. For his green 'ethics'.
As expected, after a short lull in the process, approval was 'slipped' through. In a deal to build (and operate) the first nuclear power station in Britain for nearly 20 years, a deadline has been set for the end of March to agree terms of construction: the £14bn project at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

Hinkley Point C, Supply Chain Registration
EDF - Hinkley Point B
EDF Energy


Tesco - local paper report (22.03.2013)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tesco at Westgate-on-Sea: letter of objection

Tesco Stores Ltd application to build a store at

Westgate-on-Sea

The letter (below) of objection was sent to Thanet District Council Planning Department


27.03.2013
Planning Department
Thanet District Council
PO Box 9
Cecil Street
MARGATE
Kent
CT9 1XZ

Planning Application: F/TH/12/0769

Proposed erection of 2 storey Retail (A1) Unit on vacant
GOODS YARD at STATION ROAD WESTGATE ON SEA CT8 8QY

Applicant: Tesco Stores Ltd

I have no commercial or other interest in the Tesco Ltd application. Indeed, greater competition would not of itself be a bad thing and I have no argument with businesses attempting to capitalise on increased trading potential. The enhancement opportunity of the derelict yard is not in question. This objection is mostly about traffic concerns, but only considers some of the major issues. My postal address in MARGATE, though my nearest shopping area is WESTGATE. I use this centre frequently.

A comment was made at the Council meeting 20.03.2013 regarding turning down a Tesco application. It was suggested we all know that there are “consequences”. I don't. What “consequences”? This has sinister overtones and is quite disturbing. This is not a rhetorical question. It is tantamount to an overt threat (a gun-at-the-head) and requires explanation as it is highly suggestive of Tesco having some kind of hold over TDC.

POLICY TC1 - NEW RETAIL DEVELOPMENT

Westgate is outside core Town Centre areas (defined as Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs) and as such all applications for retail are required to demonstrate the need for the proposed development and that there is no unacceptable impact on the vitality and viability of existing centres.

POLICY TC8 - DISTRICT AND LOCAL CENTRES

Proposals for additional shopping provision at traditional district and local centres will be permitted where proposals meet local need, widen the choice, quality or range of shopping facilities and of a scale appropriate to the particular centre.
4.87. The district centres of Westgate, Birchington and Minster all offer a wide range of shopping facilities to meet the needs of local people, the tourist trade and passing trade in pleasant and vibrant surroundings. It is important that the vitality of these centres is maintained. Thanet is also well served by local centres of varying sizes such as St Peter’s and Westbrook.
4.88. The District Council envisages that any new retail shops within these centres should be local shops, to serve the local catchment of the particular centre. However, it is recognised that there may be a need for local food stores that may be larger than other local shops, but these should have a maximum floorspace of 1000 square metres.


There is an error in the planning application: the Street Address is described as BROADSTAIRS. The correct address is WESTGATE-on-SEA.

Introduction

Historically, Tesco brought itself to national attention through its own actions: Gerrard's Cross. It took 14 years for this store to finally open (2010) and illustrates the determination of this company. It seems, however, that in its ambitions, lessons have not been learned, but cynically just adjusted in an attempt to get around issues and it appears that Tesco no longer builds over railways (resulting in a tunnel collapse), but simply wants to operate alongside them. The Gerrard's Cross example illustrates the extraordinary power that this retailer appears to command. Residents fought a long campaign against any development and in the process gained 93% of local people in support, but the plan was turned down at every level of local government (parish to county). Gerrard's Cross was at the time a large village of around 6000 residents. This community was well-served by shops and big Tesco stores were already located just 10 minutes' drive away at Amersham and Slough. Several of these shops went out of business before Tesco was ever built. The threat, it seems, was enough to remove any potential competition. The creation of 'new' jobs was the result of the laid-off (unemployed). Creation is better described as redistribution. This is just a single example of similar stories over the entire country. People have only a certain amount of money to spend. New towns create an influx of consumers, but at the expense of other local well-established centres. An example here is the 'new town' Westwood Cross and the 'old town' of Margate. Indeed, homes are to be built in this creation.

  • As a business model it could be argued that Tesco can create a jobs market by the destruction of other jobs and then hire the unemployed at low pay-rates. The Gerrard's Cross example had 1500 applicants to fill 200 posts. And only 40 (20%) of these posts were full-time. Part-time employment amounted to 60% (120 posts). Actual rates of pay are not declared, though are probably at the legal minimum (aka the legalised maximum).
The long-term rejuvenation of Margate is difficult to envisage, though the job could be more complete when the link-road between Lord-of-the-Manor and Westwood Cross is finished. Margate will then be defunct. It is of no small concern that a large Tesco superstore exists at Westwood. This technically has a Broadstairs address though is clearly out-of town. The continuing Westwood development will bring existing customers to Tesco and, in general, at the expense of the other Thanet town centres. Development of a new town is not the issue here, but the demise of the old.

Objection

Throughout any Monday–Saturday period, Westgate-on-Sea is a busy Town, described by many as a Village. There are bus services through this centre approximately every 15 minutes and the approach is from the eastern end of Station Road towards the western end where the railway station is located. A yellow prohibition 'Bus Stop' box exists outside the railway station and double-yellow lines are painted in various places in Station Road to prevent parking. Often there are transgressors who risk being prosecuted. Very occasionally, a traffic warden patrols the high street. Yellow lines do not seem to deter. Other locations, mostly on the commercial side, have restricted parking (60 minutes). Double-parking is not uncommon since some consider it acceptable to be an obstruction to the many while some quick shopping is done and the offender can be 'parked' in the middle of the road. It seems hazard lights (that have no meaning in British law) are considered to legalise these inconsiderate (illegal) actions. Drivers sometimes leave the vehicle unattended with lights flashing, in the middle of the road. Even unattended with the engine running (totally illegal).

The proposed Tesco store in Station Road, Westgate would by necessity need to be narrow and built right up to the railway platform behind it. Existing buildings are mostly Victorian in architecture and the Turner Contemporary illustrates how fitting into style will not be considered.

The pavement on the corner of Adrian Square/Station Road, Westgate, juts out into Station Road creating a minor chicane necessitating a car driver to pull slightly into Adrian Square and off Station Road should a bus or other large vehicle need to pass. Crossing the road from the paved side into the proposed Tesco store (opposite) has no provision for safety. Westgate is a town that would benefit greatly from a 20mph speed limit. One potential solution would be to narrow the crossing by extending the pavement outwards on both sides, but this would simply create a greater restriction to the free flow of traffic.

Presumably the iron railings would be removed, but any canopy matching the other side of the street (the front canopy roof shall be corrugated iron – TDC) would not be possible due to width constraints. The loading bay area appears to be at this end. To avoid encroaching into the road there can be no canopy. A (rigid) lorry would be blocked by such a feature. This would be in direct conflict with any such requirement. The narrow strip of land does not permit a proper loading/unloading bay for off-road parking while provisions are delivered. The proposed plan is unclear, but it appears that the loading bay encroaches proud of the existing parking areas. As a consequence, the road would be narrower at this point and present a major constriction to the movement of all traffic. Presumably, a fork-lift truck would be required, which would need to be stored somewhere unless provided by the delivery truck itself. This constitutes a further hazard which would continue for up to 75 minutes. The lorry must arrive from the eastern end of Station Road so that the unloading is directly into the supplies-entry area and does not interfere with the considerable highway traffic.

It is entirely possible that Tesco would at some later stage of the application/approval process launch an amendment to have the public toilet block demolished and add new toilet facilities into an extended store footprint (current proposal is 378 sq.m). Such expansion would most likely still be below the 1000 sq.m limit. This would clearly remove the necessity for the maintenance and upkeep of these public facilities and so probably be viewed as an advantage. It is also conceivable that such an extension could be built to pass under the existing footbridge or even for the footbridge to be totally re-sited. Where? I could propose several possibilities, but each is absolutely unworkable.

Coastal Electrics and Ballards (florist) have occasional deliveries by rigid vehicles. These must park in the street. They already cause a significant obstruction, though at the moment a bus or other large vehicle can (carefully) pass successfully. A Tesco delivery lorry parked opposite would block the road completely in the event of simultaneous deliveries. Emergency vehicles could not pass. This is all very probable at some time. At least the Co-operative store delivery lorry can turn off the main road into Adrian Square, though while it unloads this road remains totally (unofficially) closed. Any historical planning application/business changes could never have considered delivery issues. It is an obstruction and technically the police should become involved. The Council could find itself culpable for an offence that could be easily tracked back to the original planning application. The probability of potential litigation is far-reaching. Residents and shoppers may recognise the problem at the moment and accept the occasional relatively minor inconvenience, but knowingly being responsible for creating a major obstruction/hazard is another matter.

  • The expected attraction of out-of-area shoppers raises the entire issue of car-parking. If the Westbrook example is examined the situation is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Tesco waste storage is not mentioned in the planning application. How is waste proposed to be stored and collected? Further obstructions are envisaged as a TDC (or other) vehicle would need to be large in order to remove rubbish.
Tesco store in Westbrook

The Tesco/Westbrook store in Canterbury Road illustrates the anticipated stupidity/selfishness of some driver/shoppers. This is a 'convenience' store, but is not meant for driver convenience at any cost. The decision to allow this store to be positioned near the foot of a bridge at the already busy intersection with Westbrook Avenue/Rancorn Road was ill considered. It is a continuing hazard. The very recent (20.03.2013) placement of wooden posts in the pavement on the corner outside the store in the attempt to prevent idiotic 'parking' is too little and too late. Presumably, Tesco funded this enhancement. Already (while the cement was still hardening) a car was parked in front of the first post, two wheels on the pavement and two wheels on yellow lines and this on the curve approaching the junction with Canterbury Road. Pedestrian right-of-way was blocked and walking into the road the only option. Such 'parking' is obviously illegal, but is clearly not prevented. Walking for the lazy and the 'I cannot be bothered to park sensibly as I'm in a hurry' shopper is to a store too far (5 metres). Incidentally, the car was 'abandoned' here for a long while. This creates precedent and is typical of anticipated behaviour. When a delivery lorry is unloading outside this store and all the (three) parking spaces in the main road are occupied, the rear-end of the lorry is about a metre from the junction. The body of the lorry blocks access to the small (pedestrian) island in the middle of Canterbury Road. This becomes even more of a major hazard as drivers turning into Westbrook Avenue (eastern approach) can come head-to-head with a car pulling out towards Margate. The driver is predictably looking right to ensure a safe manoeuvre into Canterbury Road. They are not able to see a car crossing into Westbrook Avenue in any case. It's a blind manoeuvre. Some drivers even cut this corner dangerously. It is quite simply a question of when a serious accident will happen and not if. Further onwards outside the now defunct Dog and Duck, traffic turning right over the railway bridge must block the main Canterbury Road, should a large vehicle be parked there (on yellow lines). Business seems always to take priority over public safety. The positioning of this store is inexcusable.

In conclusion, it is apparent that the Tesco application is ill-conceived and possible future plans disturbing. A store as proposed and sited in Westgate is wholly inappropriate. The application should be denied.

Yours respectfully,