Tesco Shelford Battle Commenced

09:35 Thursday 13th January 2011 BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

ANDY HARPER: Residents of the village of Shelford were up in arms after it was revealed on this programme that Tesco plan to open in the village. Many thought it would decimate the small independent shops there, which do so well. Yesterday four planning applications to convert the former Eden Lilly store were refused by South Cambridgeshire District Council. Charlie Nightingale is the local councillor, Chairman of the Council, and we speak to him very often. Today is no exception. Charlie, good morning to you.

ANDY HARPER: So, I don’t think too much can be read into this, because it doesn’t mean, does it. there will be no Tesco in Shelford?
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: No. I think this is just the starter for ten, if you know what I mean. We’ve got a long battle, I think. they’re going to appeal. The world has been taken over by people like Tesco and Sky television, if you know what I mean.
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: I think this is just round one.
ANDY HARPER: So just remind us of the applications that were turned down yesterday, and what significance they have.
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: The first one was the fascias, the signs, which we refused 12-2. That was the first one. The second one was the ATM machine. That went to 14-1. Then we had one that was sort of refused, but deferred, if you know what I mean, because we needed a bit more information, but it was going to be refused, but officers recommended we deferred it to get a bit more meat on the bones, as it were. But I’m pretty confident that will get refused if it comes back next month. And then the shop front was refused.
ANDY HARPER: So if you refuse them permission to have a shop front, and you refused them permission to have any signs, well you would almost assume that that would negate the whole point of having a shop there, but it won’t end here.
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: When I say the signs are refused, there’s two small ones on either cheek of the side wall. they can have those. But it’s the main Tesco Express large letters in red and white which are erected on the front of the canopy if you understand what I mean. They stand up. They were the ones that we objected to.
ANDY HARPER: Right. Were these applications rejected because basically the feeling is you don’t want Tesco there?
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: No no no. They were treated as any other application would be treated. But I think members were quite upset, because if you recall, back in July when this first was given permission for an extension on the back, had we known all the facts at that time we probably would have not allowed this extension, because they applied for an extension on the backs of the premises you see, which it would have helped by refusing that, because it wouldn’t have been big enough for Tescos. And the other thing is we would have considered the transport implications more, you see. We weren’t aware of all that at the time. So it was sort of a development through the back door.
ANDY HARPER: Now you as I said represent Shelford on the Council. What is the feeling among the people of the village and beyond really? Are you representing them when you and others say, look, we do not want Tesco here?
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: Yes, I think so. Yes. Yes. I think it’s going to affect a lot of the smaller shops in the village. Yes that’s right.
ANDY HARPER: The point is Charlie that we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen it in Mill Road, further afield, we’ve seen it in Sheringham in Norfolk, who vehemently didn’t want Tesco, and they came back and they came back and they came back. So judging by your first comment, this is just the first skirmish .
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: Yes it is. This will go on for another five or six months easily. And I should imagine they’ll win in the long run. Because in fact they could go in this afternoon and open.
ANDY HARPER: Oh they could, just without some of the facilities turned down yesterday?
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: Yes. Use the existing doorway that they’ve got. There’s no need to alter the front at all. They could go in there. There’s nothing to stop them at all.
ANDY HARPER: So the next stage will be ..
CHARLES NIGHTINGALE: The appeal. I should imagine they’ll lodge one today, I should think.
ANDY HARPER: Charlie, for the moment, good to talk to you. Thanks very much for joining us. Cheers. That’s Councillor Charlie Nightingale, represents Shelford on South Cambridgeshire District Council, and is also Chairman of the Council as well. If you have your thoughts, and there are of course both sides to this argument. Because every time we hear people saying they don’t want a Tesco or any other supermarket for that matter in their village, or their town, well then there are others who turn around straight away and say yes we do, we want the choice, and we want to go and buy food and other items cheaply, as cheaply as possible. So we do appreciate there are two sides to this argument. Tesco have told us: “This is an empty shop unit that we are renting, and bringing back to use, creating 20 new jobs. We have chosen this location because we believe it will be popular with customers, and will help people shop in the High Street, rather than taking them away to out-of-town shops. Bringing more shoppers to the area will be good for all local businesses.”