Saturday, 6 August 2011

Campaigners succeed in halting final decision on Freshwater application for superstore at Arlington, Margate

One imagines there was an almighty kerfuffle at Cecil Square on Wednesday when Richard Buxton solicitors, acting on behalf of a group of Margate residents and businesses, sent a letter informing TDC, that for them to issue a Decision Notice on Freshwater's application for a superstore as big as two football pitches, it would be unlawful. The reason?  As detailed on the Arlington House blog, the Scenic Railway at Dreamland was upgraded to Grade II* on July 7th. This is considered a 'Material Consideration' requiring the whole application to come back to Planning Committee to be reconsidered.

Conversations with English Heritage and other consultees indicate that greater scrutiny will be placed on the sensitivity of the site, now nestled between a number of Grade II and now two Grade II* structures. Importantly the Scenics recent upgrade cited the importance of 'Group Value' of The Dreamland Cinema, The Scenic Railway and the Menagerie Cages that run along the perimeter of the Dreamland site:

"The Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate, built in 1920 by JH Iles for his new American-style amusement park is recommended for listing at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Rarity: it is the oldest surviving roller coaster in Britain and is of international importance as the second oldest in Europe and amongst the five oldest in the world of this prominent C20 entertainment structure; * Design: Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of roller coaster design and it is an internationally important surviving example of this technology; * Townscape value: as an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts, and Dreamland, its principal amusement park ; * Group value: it groups with Dreamland's other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie."

Perhaps this time round we will actually get a S106 agreement that works for the town and not to refurbish the applicant's own property and a traffic survey conducted not in winter but in summer and to also include a fully functioning Turner Contemporary with revised visitor figures and projected figures for the reopened Dreamland.

And what great timing. There is a piece in today's Guardian about Tesco's influence as an 'amighty conglomerate' and urging Mary Portas, who will soon be visiting Margate, as part of the Government Funded review into the future of the high street.

Tesco has become "an almighty conglomerate" abusing its unfettered market power to dominate towns at the expense of small retailers,Labour claimed as it called on the government to confront the chain.

Labour also warned that a government- commissioned review into the future of the high street, led by the broadcaster and retail guru Mary Portas, is likely to involve other supermarket chains lobby for tougher competition laws to prevent the further dominance of Tesco.

The shadow local government minister, Jack Dromey, said: "Tesco want to rule retail, in particular the southern swath of England. It is simply not right that you can have one almighty conglomerate using its market power at the expense of the high street, and other retailers, particularly small struggling retailers."

It is unusual for Labour to pick out one supermarket for such fierce criticism, but Dromey said Tesco was the worst offender involved in a chain of events that is destroying community life. He said: "High streets have become like ghost towns with local retailers out of business with dire consequences for communities, the poor, the elderly and those without access to cars. This is a deeply felt issue all over Britain."

Dromey called on the Portas review to recommend a "competition test" to prevent grocery retailers acquiring a dominant position in a locality.

He said: "I think Tesco may find themselves in a minority of one trying to object to that, and the government have got to have the courage of their convictions to face Tesco down."

Dromey said the government was facing furious lobbying by Tesco. But he added: "If you want a healthy diverse high street then you cannot have a dominant retailer acting in its own interests, and not the interests of the high street."

He challenged the way Tesco "sell themselves as a major creator of jobs". He argued the net effect of its expansion may have been to reduce total jobs in the retail sector. "We are not anti-supermarket, but one in six shops are standing empty, so this is serious," he said.

Since the general election the big four multiple retailers have opened 407 new stores, and added more than 5m sq ft of selling space. Many would have received planning permission before the election.

Labour's intervention follows Ed Miliband's argument that the revival of communities must be underpinned by preserving institutions, including the high street, through competition law.

The government announced the Portas review in May, with a report due in October. It is possible that Labour's call for a competition test will feature in her report, especially if rival supermarkets, such as Asda and Sainsbury, support the measure.

Two months ago, Portas revealed her determination to act, saying: "The rise of the supermarket giants – and our love affair with them – is killing Britain's small shops. We're sacrificing not just our greengrocers, our butchers and our bakers, but also our communities for convenience."

Dromey remained open-minded about the review, saying: "The thing is we want real shops, not talking shops. At the heart of the decline of high streets all over Britain has been the unchecked flight of the supermarket to out-of-town shopping malls."

In a sign of government concern, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced a ''town centres first'' policy in their national planning policy statement last week. The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has relaxed centrally imposed rules on parking restrictions so that councils can create additional spaces to attract shoppers from the free car parks of supermarkets.

Dromey said the measures were a start, but that planning authorities should have to devise retail diversity schemes that put as much emphasis on small shops as big chains, and control the trend to smaller supermarkets in inner city areas, pushing independents out of business.

In autumn, a cross-party group of peers will try to insert a version of the clause in the localism bill.

The government minister, Lord Taylor, appeared largely unsympathetic to the idea, saying: "Town centre planning policy is not pro- or anti-supermarkets.

"Planning cannot seek to restrict lawful competition between retailers; in fact, planning policy is blind to whether the operator of a retail proposal is a supermarket or an independent."

Tesco contends that its inner city convenience stores are good for the high street. "We have brought back into the heart of many towns and district centres the benefits that shoppers expect from a supermarket, that were previously available only in the large out-of-town stores. Supermarkets have increased choice, and hence the attractiveness of local centres as shopping destinations. Tesco stores have been demonstrably good for the high street and neighbourhoods, not a threat to them, just as the planners envisaged."

Tesco added: "Studies have shown that an investment by Tesco in a town or high street means that the town and high street benefits. The reason it benefits is because people stay in the area, they do linked trips and those linked trips cause other retailers to open".




  1. Here we go again, just a handful of people preventing what the vast majority of local people want...

  2. No, Peter, it's just the law. You wouldn't want TDC to pass an unlawful decision would you and bring about a costly legal action?

  3. Meanwhile people coming to Margate will continue to be greeted by closed & rotting shops at Arlington House instead of a thriving & popular superstore...

  4. If TDC had gone ahead and approved the scheme without consulting, they would have been open to a legal challenge from all sides, potentially costing tens of thousands of pounds, so in a way, the legal challenge has saved TDC tax payers.

    On the rotting shops argument, Thanet District Council is the owner of the land Arlington is built on.
    A long lease was created to enable the development of Arlington. TDC is the overall freeholder.
    Freshwater, the applicant, took over the full repairs lease and have responsibility to maintain the building.

    As one of the richest families in the UK and one of UK's richest property owners, Freshwater can easily afford to keep the building in a decent state and TDC should do their job and enforce the proper maintenance and repairs.

    I'd have no problem with a supermarket for locals, but this is a bad place to put a 2 story industrial shed the size of 2 football pitches that will turn Margate's seafront into a traffic jam.

  5. Traffic used to be at a virtual standstill almost as far as Whitstable in Dreamland's heyday...& of course Margate seafront would have less traffic if they'd built the TC on the Royal Seabathing site as many locals (including myself) had suggested.

  6. I don't understand the Peter Checksfield point.
    Would be better to have more cars and HGVs on Margate seafront or less?

    In March 2011 (only 4 months ago) KCC approved the Margate Seafront and Station Approach Public Realm Improvement Scheme.

    The overall aim of the scheme is to reduce traffic on the seafront to make a more pedestrian friendly environment.

    The scheme was the result of consultations with with local residents, businesses, regeneration agencies including: Thanet District Council (TDC), Margate Renewal Partnership (MRP), Kent Highway Services (KHS), Network Rail (NR), Southeastern Railways (SER), Kent Arts Development Unit (KADU) and Margate Arts Creativity Heritage (MACH).

    You can read the report here:

    KCC were hoping Tesco may pay for the improvements.

    Instead, the approval of Freshwater's the superstore scheme would make it impossible to make the improvements.

  7. Please can someone explain where these alledged HGVs are supposedly coming from if going to Tesco along Margate seafront? Are they going to get their deliveries via ships from Margate harbour?

    Absolute nonsense of course. All HGV's will be coming & going either via Canterbury Road in Westbrook or Victoria traffic lights.

  8. Well Peter hopefully we won't have to worry about HGV's clogging up Canterbury Road, All Saints Ave or Victoria traffic lights if the plan is scrapped. Also I'd be quite grateful if you can stop using phrases like "handful of people preventing what the vast majority want" given that you don't know what the vast majority wants as they haven't been asked.

    Personally I'd prefer to see the whole area revamped with a selection of smaller shops to match the regeneration at the Piazza, making more of the "sense of arrival" that is explained in the Jacobs report. I'm gutted that I didn't win the Euromillions as I'd have paid the £10 million needed to fund the whole bloody project!

  9. So I'm right then, no-one can explain these alledged HGV's & it's merely scare-mongering...

    I'm honest: I WANT cheap produce & a large choice all under one roof & within walking distance of my home.

  10. So Tesco is the best we can do for Margate is it Peter? Because you WANT cheap produce in large variety within walking distance of your home. Another 10 minutes and you're in College square where you have Morrsions is that not enough?

    How defeated are we as a polulation if we think that a Tesco store is a good thing... such a shame that we have become so shortsighted and blinkered to think that Tesco is the best solution. Peter sees either a Tesco or empty shops, he cannot see past those boarded up shops, he cannot see a bright future where people getting off a train from London visiting Margate may be found sitting buying all manner of items from small independant shops, he'd rather they join him in a Tesco.

  11. Those "small independent shops" at Arlington Square as people got off the train went out of business throughout the 90s & early noughties when many people came to Margate than they do now (& there were far less similar shops in the old town / harbour area). So lovely as your idea sounds, I can't see it working somehow...

    Morrisons is more expensive & has less choice than Tesco. This is why so many people currently go to WC to do their shopping.

    Just as the TC has the potential to revive Margate, I genuinely believe Tesco does too. If they succeed here (taking an estimated 30% of business away from WC), then there's a good chance that other big businesses will return.

    I really don't see why bug supermarkets & smaller shops can't work side by side. Have you been to Deal by train lately? There's TWO huge supermakets in the station car park! Certainly doesn't seem to put people off from visiting the place though.

  12. ...and I don't see tioo many HGV's thundering along Deal seafront either! ; )

  13. I don't normally agree with Peter,but Tesco are the only one's with the money to sort out the dreadful mess that is Arlington and the slummy car park behind.Tesco wont hit any small shops as there are'nt any in westbrook.and yes Deal has massive supermarkets in the station car park,but their independant shops are all thriving..

  14. Tesco's are not the only ones with money. Freshwater, the leaseholders, are an incredibly rich company. They feature on the Times Rich List. They are responsible for the dereliction and must maintain the building according to the covenants in their lease. TDC as the freeholders have the power to enforce this. TDC have no jurisdiction to enforce the change of about two thirds of the windows on Arlington Tower.

  15. TDT not only have the power to enforce the maintenance of Arlington, they have an obligation.

    The state of Arlington should not be used as an excuse.

    People need to demand that TDC enforces the lease and gets these shameful billionaires to repair the building.

    Then we can talk about planning permissions, without being held to ransom.

  16. There are no shops in westbrook? The Bike Shed, Spar, Fast Micros computer shop, Goodwins (tools) , big For Men (clothes) Arsh newsagents, Frances flower shop, Westbrook Craft Centre, Pure inspirations (decorative home wares) The Beauty Tree, Cutts both ways, Access Lock and Keye Service, The liqure Locker, Pizza Chicken, The Ali Raj, Charcoal Grill, Venus hair salon, PM Flooring, Classic Homes Upholstery, Happy Place Fish & Chips to nane a few...

  17. No decent grocery shops though. Spar is OK (& nice people), but my weekly shopping in there would cost at least 50% more than in Tesco AND there's no freshly baked bread, fresh fish, very little fruit & veg, etc. As for the takeaways & hair salons, surely more people returning to Margate will actually help them?

    Incidentally you're out of date: Big For Men has closed down.

  18. So once again Peter nails his sails to the mast of "cheap food" and the fact that he wants to be able to buy it local... well if thats the case why don't we just let Tesco build a shop on every street, it's the only real way to ensure everyone has access to cheap food locally... For Peter you see local means within walking distance, I'm not sure if this means Peter is just lazy or too infirm to cover large distances. Regarding people coming to Margate increasing sales in Westbrook is hilarious, I now classify Peter as diluded as I doubt people, like Peter, will be bothered to walk a bit longer to access shops and services, they'll want them right next door to Tesco, because, like Peter again, they'll want them local... and that means without having to travel further than they want.

    As pointed out by MA and a few anon's TDC has he power to enforce the Freeholder to make good on their requirements under the current lease... They won't and therefore one can only assume backhanders of stuffed brown envelopes may be at play in Council chambers.

    Peter, would you still be up for a Tesco is it meant demolishing 30 homes next door to yours and having one as a neighbour?

  19. Presumably Rob you also believe that people who visit the TC won't bother walking to other galleries (unless they're next door)...

  20. Rob, would you have still been up for an art gallery the size of the TC if it meant demolishing 30 homes next door to yours and having one as a neighbour?

    A very daft question of course, but no dafter than yours.

  21. It isn't a daft question, Peter is happy for a Tesco because it doesn't affect him, it will affect the residents of Arlington which is why many of them are members of an action group saying that they don't want it. It will also affect the owners of the new houses being built directly opposite.

    I never had to worry about an art centre being built next to my house, whereas Tesco and other large businesses are more than happy to have Councils compulsary purchase homes to build on, places like... errr... what's the name of that place.... are yes Westwood Cross.

  22. Just to clarify as well.... I don't like having to travel to the middle of Thanet to have the best choice/range of product to buy. If Tesco was looking at anywhere else I probbably wouldn't object quite so much. BUT I do not believe that building a Tesco right off the sea front is the sort of regeneration that part of Margate needs. I'd prefer something more inkeeping with current and proposed regeneration.

  23. A very popular pub & live band venue was demolished to make way for The Turnip Centre; a mostly disused car park will make way for Tesco.

  24. the HGVs cant come from victoria traffic lights because there is a low bridge near arlington house ,all deliveries will have to come along canterbury road and then via the station roundabout which is on margate seafront,the main problem is the cars visiting the store,with the store carpark being at full capacity of 350 cars 8 hours a day ,the devlopers on traffic report say that from the clock tower to cecil square there will be 58 cars in a queue ,you cant fit 58 cars in that space so it must meen that cecil square will be blocked and that for there to be a queue at the clock tower margate seafront must be full up with cars to the station roundabout waiting to get into tescos,all this traffic is before dreamland reopens

  25. A car park that may become more useful if further regeneration projects come to fruition, given limited parking in Margate already if you lose the car park, replace it with a Tesco and fill its car park with shoppers just where are the visitors going to park?

  26. They'll mostly come by train, just as they've done since the late 19th century.

  27. A solution to the problem could be to move Peter Checksfield to Westwood Cross.

  28. Actually I very recently moved to St. Nicolas, & I'm now campaigning to get a McDonalds build next to the church. The place needs a decent takeaway.

  29. Peter, why are you so interested in a Tesco in Margate then? You made it sound like you would be using it but from St Nicholas you're closer to Ramsgate/Manston Tesco.

  30. Peter,, there’s too many brainwash commercialized people around if you knew what rubbish was put in mc burgers you would not go, cheap/expensive for a reason, One in a year event for me. I want to live in England, not some lost nation, full of bland and same, I am so gutted that a have to live my younger live in this era. I can't believe a generation ago you could walk the streets and not feel intimidated and people were polite and tolerant and formed a queue and listened to normal music not hate music.