Mike Pearce in the Thanet Gazette ‘Tesco has become a hate figure’


Published June 28th 2013.

“THE year is 1813 and little Albert has failed to learn by heart the first three chapters of Leviticus.

“If you do not show greater endeavour, Napoleon will come and snatch you,” his mother warns the wretched child.

The year is 2013 and Wayne’s mum ain’t that bovvered that her chubby teenager hasn’t finished his 200-word homework on “My favourite soap star”, but which bogeyman can she call up, in the absence of a power-crazed Frenchman?

Probably Tesco.

“If you don’t watch it, they’ll build a store – and then where’ll we be?” she can ask, whacking him soundly round the head with a leaflet containing the latest food offers.

What is it about the country’s largest supermarket chain that has made it a hate figure, not just among anti-capitalists who have nothing and want to share it, but among the chatterers who would have us believe supermarkets are the work of the Devil?

Even before Government minister Eric Pickles discovered it makes sense to build a Tesco on what is – and would have continued to be – one of Margate’s most prominent eyesores, the salvos had started.

Boom! It will ruin the seafront.

Boom! It will be ugly.

Boom! Boom! There will be thousands of traffic movements and no-one wants it.

It is time to return fire.

What practical and fundable alternative is there to the Tesco development?

Can it really be uglier than Arlington House or the Turner shed?

If no-one wants it, there will be little additional traffic. And if there is, it means it’s wanted. Guaranteed win!

In fact Tesco is not wanted because it is not “cool”. In the same way pretentious folk weaned on drug-fuelled rock music ridicule the millions who bought Cliff Richard records, so Tesco cannot be mentioned without a thinning of the lips, a sneer and an uncomplimentary adjective – usually “evil”.

Tesco is guilty of something unforgivable when seen through right-on eyes. It makes profits. Large profits.

As in profits to take on staff. Large profits to take on even more staff.

It is an agreeable fantasy to imagine a world with no supermarkets, where every little shop in every little cobbled street is run by a little old lady with thin-rimmed glasses and thinning hair, sitting on a rickety stool and reading a dog-eared Penguin classic, forever hoping a kindly stranger will come in from the rain and buy one of the pashminas she has lovingly created from the hair of goats from the Isle of Capri.

An anti-Tesco scream goes up whenever and wherever a supermarket is planned. Out of town, near the seafront, at Westbrook, the default position is “How awful!”

For real awfulness, talk to anyone old enough to remember the pre-supermarket days when we toddled along to the corner shop.

Every item had to be searched for by the owner, there was always a queue, and, after you had waited 20 minutes to ask for 20 Park Drive tipped, you were told they’d run out.

I am a Morrison’s man (it’s less prone to swamping its stores with multi-buy offers which disadvantage so disgracefully the millions of us who live alone), but I admire Tesco for the service it gives, the 310,000 jobs it provides in its 3,416 stores, the dividends it pays and the profits it makes to guarantee its future.

Among the reasons we should be thanking Eric Pickles:

It is not a pie-in-the-sky project from a bunch of dreamers and the site will not revert to an eyesore within a generation.

It will not be subsidised through our taxes.

Oh yes – and it’s upset Mary Portas.”

Discuss this on our Facebook page

Breaking News: High Court Legal Challenge to Secretary of State’s decision to approve Margate seafront ‘Tesco Superstore’


Today, June 18th, It has been decided to issue legal proceedings to the High Court to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision of June 13th 2013 to approve the ‘Tesco Superstore’ development at the Arlington site in Margate.

The order sought is that the Secretary of State’s decision notice and the Inspector’s report are quashed.

The claim has been requested to be joined/consolidated with the associated judicial review of the Secretary of State’s Environmental Impact Assessment that was granted permission on March 27th 2013 on an expedited basis.

The Developer has been asked not to commence any works on site, including any demolition until the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision is determined by the Court. This is because there is a risk of ending up with a demolition site on the seafront at the gateway to Margate.  If the Developer does not agree to do so, then an interim injunction will be sought to prevent this. It is hoped that this will not be necessary.

For press enquiries please use our contact page.

The Arlington battle is not yet lost…WE NEED YOUR HELP!

The Arlington battle is not yet lost. Thanet District Council is the freeholder and has to grant Landlord’s Consent for any alterations to take place on the site. This is totally separate from Planning Permission.

There was a Corporation Car Park here from the 1930’s. Continued use as a public car park is a condition of the current lease between Thanet District Council and Freshwater, a lease which has been in place since 1965.  Any changes to that lease have to be approved by a Thanet District Council Cabinet meeting.

In view of the success of Turner Contemporary, the re-opening of Dreamland next year and the regeneration of Margate as a whole, adequate and appropriately located visitor parking is an essential ingredient for continued success.

If you feel strongly that the Arlington car park should be re-opened and retained, then please lobby the Cabinet Members with your views.

The Cabinet Members are Councillors Hart, Poole, Everitt,  Fenner, Green and Johnston.

Four of them voted against the planning application. Additionally, one of them spoke against the application at both the planning meeting and the Public Inquiry. Two of them also submitted written comments to the Inspector in opposition to the application.

They all need to know your views.

The Cabinet Members are not bound collectively or individually by the Secretary of State’s decision to grant planning permission. The matter of Landlord’s Consent is an entirely separate issue and therefore the Council’s hands are not tied by the recent decision given by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State.

Please  email the message below along with anything else you wish to say to Council Cabinet Members and our local MP’s:

Sir Roger Gale MP: galerj@parliament.uk
Laura Sandys MP: laura.sandys.mp@parliament.uk

Dear Councillors,

I feel strongly that the Arlington public car park should be re-opened and retained.

In view of the success of Turner Contemporary, the re-opening of Dreamland next year and the regeneration of Margate as a whole, adequate and appropriately located visitor parking is an essential ingredient for continued success.

The Cabinet, either collectively or individually, are not bound by the Secretary of State’s decision to grant planning permission. The matter of Landlord’s Consent is an entirely separate issue and therefore it does not follow that the Council’s hands are tied because of the recent decision by the Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State.”

WILL YOU TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ENSURE that the existing public coach and car parking facilities at Arlington Square are opened asap to the public, according to the lease that exists between TDC as Freeholder and Metropolitan Property Realizations Ltd as lessee?

Yours sincerely,

Cabinet Posts:

  • Cabinet Member for Business, Corporate and Regulatory Services – Cllr Michelle Fenner cllr-michelle.fenner@thanet.gov.uk
  • Cabinet Member for Community Services – Cllr Iris Johnston  cllr-iris.johnston@thanet.gov.uk
  • Cabinet Member for Financial Services – Cllr Richard Everitt  cllr-Richard.Everitt@thanet.gov.uk
  • Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning Services – Cllr David Green  cllr-david.green@thanet.gov.uk
  • Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Operational Services – Cllr Alan Poole  cllr-alan.poole@thanet.gov.uk
  • Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Economic Development Services – Cllr Clive Hart  cllr-clive.hart@thanet.gov.uk

Background notes as to why this issue is so important:

The Arlington Head Lease dated 19th May 1965  between the Borough of Margate/ TDC, the   Freeholder/Lessor and Metropolitan Property Realizations Ltd /aka Freshwate, the Lessee.  Lease term is 199 years from October 1st 1961 at a rent of £7,500 per year for 199 years.

The Arlington site has some 550+ coach and car parking facilities and public lavatories  which cannot be demolished by Metropolitan Property Realizations Ltd/Freshwater without the “Landlords  Consent” being granted by Thanet District Council, following a vote passed in a full cabinet meeting of TDC. This is a separate matter from any planning application. The parking facilities and public spaces and access to the beach are specified in the head lease as for the use of the public for as long as they are needed and that use should not cease unless it can be demonstrated by Metropolitan Property Realizations Ltd that the public parking is no longer needed.

Thanet District Council has already conducted a parking review and Turner Contemporary has had 800K  visitors of whom at least 60%, by their own reckoning, come by car and the Dreamland Compulsory Purchase Order has been successful, where will Thanet District Council  find additional parking if they allow 550+ spaces at Arlington to be re-zoned to Retail A1 use and thus lost to Margate forever?

Relevant clauses from the lease:

(XX)  “Public Access”  during the whole of the term hereby granted to keep open and make available for use by the public upon reasonable terms the coach and car parking facilities and public lavatories now existing upon the premises. provided  nethertheless  should at any time during the term hereby granted the said coach and car park facilities and/or public lavatories become unnecessary or are no longer required through any change of circumstances so that a change of user  is deemed necessary or advantageous then and in such case this Clause may be varied by mutual agreement upon written  notice given by the Lessee to the Lessor.”

  • When was the written request made to Thanet District Council to close the public car parking?
  • What reasons were given by Metropolitan Property Realizations Ltd to close the public parking at Arlington?
  • When was permission given by Thanet District Council to allow the closing off of the public parking?

Thanet District Council’s Legal Department has said it has no record of any request.

Freshwater is in default of its lease. 

(viii) “Public to have use of roads and pathways” to permit members of the public to use the roads pathways and ramps on the premises for the purpose of visiting the shops and other buildings thereon open to the public as well as for the purpose of access to any coach or car parking area provided either generally for the public or for patrons of the shops or other buildings and facilities on the premises.”

The Council has never given Freshwater permission to shut down the  Arlington Public Car Park,  it is still a public car park and the public should be able to access and use it, along with the pathways and Arcade which give direct and safe access to the seafront via Arlington Square.

Lastly, Cliftonville businesses will suffer – it has already been admitted that there will be a loss of trade, since the proposed Tesco aims to be a “one stop” shop with small concessions, so that there will be no need to shop anywhere else in the area.

Secretary of State grants permission for 82,000 sq ft Margate seafront Tesco

The news is finally in. We’re disappointed that Secretary State, Eric Pickles has decided to approve the application for an 82,000 sq ft superstore on Margate seafront. This is after waiting 7 months following the public inquiry in November and a matter of weeks before a Judicial Review goes ahead challenging  the screening decision not to make the development subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment.

We’ll get to digesting the report and come back with our views later.

Here is the decision report