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.”

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Press: 3DReid’s Tesco superstore plans under threat by English Heritage decision

Building Design Magazine have published an article on Arlington Margate and the prospect of it being listed by English Heritage:

“3DReid’s Tesco superstore plans threatened by English Heritage decision

English Heritage is considering plans to list Margate’s Arlington House – a Russell Diplock-designed 18-story brutalist apartment block in the town centre.

The building, which opened in 1964 as the first ‘park and buy’ shopping and residential centre in the UK, has retained many of its distinguishing features including a Carrara marble lobby. Up to 30 of the 142 apartments have retained their original 1960s interiors.

A decision by English Heritage to recommend listed status could scupper plans by Arlington’s tenant Freshwater for a Tesco superstore on the site.

3DReid has drawn up plans for a superstore on the site of the building’s four metre-high car park, which if built would raise the roofline to 12 metres. However if listing status is granted it is unlikely these plans would go ahead, as any application for development would have to maintain the original 1960s character.

Christina Malathouni, senior case worker at the 20th Century Society, criticised Tesco’s plans.

She said: “We feel that what has been proposed does not reflect Arlington’s character. The project was built to be architecturally significant, in particular the elevations are significant from the sea to Arlington House itself.”

And local conservation groups have also supported proposals to list the building, which they said was “an amazingly heroic way to enter the town”.

Louise Oldfield, chair of Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group, said: “The debate over Arlington House has galvanised the local population. People are now much more appreciative of the building and what it means to Margate than they were.”

“Arlington could be a beacon for a second wave of regeneration in Margate but there has never been any money spent on it,” Oldfield adds. “Perhaps it is time for a proper consultation or an architectural competition for an alternative vision for Arlington.”

Thanet Council planning committee members deferred the application until a full council meeting on December 8.

Arlington House Residents’ Association re Secretary of State decision in respect of planning application for Tesco superstore at Arlington Site, All Saints Avenue,Margate


Re: Secretary of State decision in respect of planning application for Tesco superstore at Arlington Site, All Saints Avenue,Margate

 John Moss, Vice Chairman of the Residents’ Association says, “I am appalled that the Secretary of State has merely ‘rubber stamped’ Thanet Councils decision to approve the application and sent it back for Council officers to implement.  I do not believe that the matter has been anywhere near Eric Pickle’s desk, as it has been dealt with by a civil servant working for the National Planning Casework Unit in Birmingham.”

 Margate’s Mayor, Iris Johnston, joined many residents who wrote to the Secretary of State requesting that he ‘call in’ this application for review and even her pleas have been ignored.  The whole process is a complete sham, ignores due process and flies in the face of public opinion.

 Even the Council is unsure that it really wants the proposed development in its current form.  At its planning meeting last month, there were far more councillors who spoke against the application than spoke in favour.  When it came to the vote, it was only approved by the casting vote of the Independent chairman, Jack Cohen, as the committee members were split 7-7 with the Conservative members who spoke against it, toeing the party line and voting in favour.

 During the planning meeting, Councillor Alan Poole had proposed an amendment to the application that would have restricted the hours during which deliveries to the store could take place.  He was told by the officers that the amendment could not be allowed.  Therefore, no vote was allowed to take place on that amendment and this must call into question the legality of the procedure.  Clearly, democracy and public opinion had been stamped upon with a very heavy foot.

 We do not believe that the councillors who voted in favour of this application even realised that by so doing, they were in fact denying themselves the opportunity of any further input.  The full application, for a 60-bed hotel, to be built in a prime location on Margateseafront, will not now come back to the Planning Committee as it will be dealt with by the officers.  It is our view that a number of the Planning Committee members have acted like puppets, and had their strings well and truly pulled.

There are currently over 70 residents and leaseholders at Arlington House who have signed a pledge to refuse to vacate the existing residents’ car park.  This will effectively prevent the development going ahead in its current form.  Hopefully this may encourage the council and the developers to realise that the ‘steamroller’ approach to this application is not going to work”.



Labour Group’s response to Arlington decision

From: Clive Hart
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 10:18 AM

Margate Central Ward Councillors Iris Johnston and John Watkins have worked with the residents of Arlington House and nearby neighbours to try to get a sensible solution for the much neglected site.

Cllr Johnston said “Everyone has been in agreement, that due to Freshwaters years of neglect, the site is crying out for regeneration. Residents were very fair in their submissions and only wanted what was best. Traffic management, a right to a quiet night life and sufficient parking were high on their lists.

Mr Pickles, Secretary of State, has ignored our concerns and obviously given very little time to this application. We all want to work together for what is best for Margate and the Planning Committee really should have agreed to my request to bring the final decision to Full Council so that any outstanding issues could be addressed”.

At the original Planning Committee Meeting an amendment tabled by Cllr Alan Poole to restrict deliveries to between 07:00 and 23:00 was ruled illegal by the Planning Officers. The reason given was the developers would not agree to it! The object of the amendment was to limit the potential noise nuisance to local residents.