Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tesco Fiasco

I know this has already been covered on the excellent Margate Architecture blog, but I'm going to whip it out again and give it a good airing!

By now we all know that Tesco, who famously grab one of your sovs for every eight spent in this country, have their eyes on Arlington Square, up on the, er, even more deserted side of the Arsonists' Playground. On Monday night the Arlington House Residents' Association held a packed meeting to discuss Tesco's plans. Here's their press release:

The planning application from Freshwater (the site's owners) is expected in July. It will be to build a Tesco store, as big as the one in Manston. It's not a small store!

WHAT WILL THIS DO TO TOURISM IN MARGATE?

An overwhelming number of residents at the meeting last night wanted to know where all the traffic will go. The seafront of Margate will be just another M25 - as one person said - permanently impassable, so neighbouring residential areas will see a lot more cars along their streets in an effort to avoid the seafront.

By the way, some people seem to think that Tesco will pay to renovate the exterior of Arlington House. NO. Tesco will lease from Freshwater, who are the developers. Freshwater are responsible for the exterior of Arlington House and they lease the Arlington site from Thanet District Council on a 199 year lease for a peppercorn rent.

Arlington House looks as dreadful as it does because Freshwater has done nothing to the exterior in thirty or so years. Now Freshwater is basically asking the residents to pay for exterior and interior works, while Freshwater will make a mint from the long term lease it is giving to Tesco. Freshwater and Tesco are multinational, global conglomerates.

There's the very real possibility that visitors would arrive at the station, or drive to the Tesco parking lot, walk to the beach, visit Tesco for food and toilets, leave their debris on the beach and return home via the station - never to venture along the sea front towards Margate High Street or Old Town, or Cliftonville.

This will not unify Margate, but will exacerbate the geographical divisions that already exist. Connected? Good for tourism or business? We think not.

Please contact Residents Association chair Ron Greene on 07754 588193 for further comments, interview or photo opportunities.


Personally I think our beloved council will wet their proverbials at the thought of yet another Tesco superbarn on the island, so the chances of planning permission being rejected are slim, verging on the non-existent. For more information on how the Tesco monolith distorts local economies (ever wondered why you pay 6p a litre more for petrol in Thanet as opposed to Canterbury?), take a look at the Tescopoly website (tagline - Every Little Hurts!)

And just to put the record straight, I'm not one of those numbnuts who think Arlington House is a blot on the landscape. With a little TLC (rather than TDC) it could be a splendid icon for Margate. After all, 60s architecture is the new Victorian!

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Painted pink or pale blue it would look much better.
As for Tesk, I wouldn't bet on planning permish being refused....at all!

Peter Checksfield said...

Bad news for Arlington residents, good news for everyone else...

Ten years ago I would've opposed it, but in the 11 years I've lived here Westbrook has lost a post office, greengrocers, fishmonger, butchers, bakers & even the one charity shop (& the bank went shortly before this). So now it would revive this end of town, & probably prevent quite so many people going to Westwood Chaos to do their shopping.

It's a shame it has to be Tesco, but no-one else seems to be offering a better alternative, & anything is better than the boarded up shops there now (one of them specialised in "Cellphones" so it must be old, & some of the units in the now fenced off Arlington Square have been empty since at least the 80s!).

Incidentally I was chatting to the tattooist who runs a shop outside Arlington House, & he's been told to move out by December...though strangely Blaze Kebabs apparently has a longer lease & haven't been told to move. So the remaining shops there want to know what's happening.

Peter Checksfield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Child said...

It’s a funny old world you know, really no fuss has been made about the new Tesco to open at 86 to 96 Hereson Road Ramsgate and frankly the traffic and parking problems there are pretty severe as it is.

Tesco for the most part operated an a parasite on our towns, their plan seems to have been to suck them dry and then move out to specially designed sites when the host was dead, this combined with the architectural damage, most of York Street in Ramsgate looks onto a windowless expanse of wall built at the whim of Tesco, this should be a warning to us all.

Here in Ramsgate having done damage by moving in and causing the closure of many independent shops, followed by damage done by moving out and taking may of the shoppers out of town, they evidently failed to kill the town completely and now there are many new food shops opening their intention seems to be to come back and do more damage.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me I do not normally swear on these blogs but in my humble opinion Tesco are fucking parasites.

Peter Checksfield said...

Michael, do you think Arlington House & its "shops" would be better off just staying the way they are then?

Michael Child said...

Not really Peter, in fact I don’t really know what to make of Tesco’s intentions here, frankly it isn’t easy to see it as the most suitable site in terms of benefits to Margate or Tesco.

The plans appear to be for a 60,000 square foot store with parking for 350 cars, this is pretty substantial and will obviously have effects both on the town centre and the main leisure beach, quite what those effects would be I am not sure of.

My belief is that Tesco regret losing their site in the middle of Ramsgate, but once again I am mystified by the site of their new store here.

I really only have the damage that they have done to the local area, in terms of our towns being an environment for human beings, to go on.

I suppose that there may be something in the premise that without a real town centre there is a way in which Margate can now be viewed as a very large housing estate by the sea – some very nice architecture, a somewhat na├»ve approach to the benefits of “culture” and a bizarre approach to leisure facilities – but nonetheless developing all of the problems associated with a very large housing estate. Perhaps there is a way that Tesco, with their private police force and their marketing strategy feel that being central to this would be profitable, for them.

Peter Checksfield said...

Oh I have little doubt that this would be profitable for them, as there's so little to compete with it: The only real competition in Margate would be Morrisons, there's nothing much in Westbrook, & even the Spars in Westgate & Birchington have recently changed to Co-Ops (with much reduced range & higher prices). But if it can win back all the customers who currently shop in the WC Tesco then surely it can only be good for Margate...

ascu75 aka Don said...

I thought it had all gone quiet on this front, I am sure a few more stores in Westbrook will go soon. I can remember enquiring about the cost of a shop in Westbrook several years ago and the Rates charged were astronomic so I hope the council charge Tesco pro-rata because they scared me away.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
Now.... if TESCO would take over the High Street....
I would have nothing to crab about, but people are right...
booze n bogs is all the daytrippers want, and there are plenty of other local businesses capable of offering up these. Sandwiches and Fish n Chips too.

There we are, all organised, and no Doc's in sight.

Anonymous said...

Well i am one of those numbnuts who does think its a blot on the landscape of Margate Richard.
I work in a 16 story concrete brutalist tower (International Press Centre) and it is fine in central London, but since moving to Westbrook i can see why Turner raved about the big skies of Margate - problem is you step out of the station and first thing you see as you look to the beach and harbour is this carbunkle.
I say knock it down, redevelop the land with lo rise smaller supermarket, purchse flats from the owners, redevlop the old guest houses to the West of Margate ... well (before it turns into Cliftonville mark 2) and sell at a discount to the Arlington House folks.
Peter, new businesses have opened in Westbrook - two grow your own "horticularist" shops, catering to the home grower. Any connection to the number of Police busts lately??

Peter Checksfield said...

Haha, could be anon 1:29! I agree totally that we'd be better off getting rid of it, but that's unlikely to happen (see here what the place used to look like).

Anonymous said...

TDC mad a big mistake leasing the land for next to nothing and giving planning permission for Arlington House, but now it is here and we have to take it a a piece of the town's history.

Tesco on the other hand is a mistake that can be avoided.

After sucking the town dry with Westwood Cross, they now move in for the kill, clearing out the few remaining businesses on the High Street and. Cheep cameras will get rid of the camera shop, some tools might push Goodwins over the edge... Something for everybody.

Then there is the issue of what their future plans will be. Tesco Towns is the new thing, As one of the biggest land owners, Tesco is moving into building house, and there is some prime land to build on around there. The Idea of relying on Gimmy Gee and and Tesco to develop the centre of our town is a bit scary.

Peter Checksfield said...

Anon 3:23, I'll ask you the same question I asked Michael: Do you think Arlington House & its "shops" would be better off just staying the way they are then?

Unfortunately no-one seems to be offering anything better.

Anonymous said...

After shopping at Tesco's the punters could use their clubcard points up at the Turner bunker or on Tesco Pedalo's. Now where did they go?

Peter Checksfield said...

I'm glad there's no more Pedalo's, the foreign perverts!!!

Anonymous said...

There seems to be confusion between what Tescos an Freshwater are actually proposing and what people would like them to do.

Freshwater will hand over the residents parking to Tesco. Residents won't have a say on this.

The residents will lose their spacious marble and glass entrance and be re-routed to a smaller new entrance. The original one looks a bit like those you see in Milan or Madrid, designed to inspire and attract buyers. The new one will be more suited to the asylum seeker/benefit claimer image the building has acquired. Residents won't have a say on this.

Freshwater could refurb the tower, installing double glazing (maybe) The entire bill would be charged to residents (Tesco are not offering to pay. The result will b that residents could lose their homes.

Freshwater/Tesco are proposing to board up the entire parade of shops. So the existing shops will have to go and there will probably be some kind of illustration on the hoarding. It could be pics of inspired shoppers and the odd vegetable, as you have in the Westwood Tesco store windows, or they could do a "community thing" such as blowing up pictures drawn by local children- no one can complain about that.

There is an outline plan for a hotel and new shopping arcade, but that is just an outline plan. Anyone could submit a plan. There are no investors, no one is offering to contribute, The development of the seafront and parade of shops is just an idea and should not be seen as an incentive to have a superstore round the back, because it has nothing to do with it.

There are many ways the site could be developed to benefit residents, visitors and the town in general, but the players seem to be Tescos, Freshwater, and Godden, so we can't expect much.

Anonymous said...

Peter is right, no-one seems to be offering a better alternative & ANYTHING is better that what's there now!

Anonymous said...

The inescapable fact about Tesk is that people flock there in millions to shop. It's convenient, cheapish and the customer service is pretty good. Yeh, it is raping the environment and perpetuating animal cruelty and it's employment terms are pretty harsh but customers don't seem to give a rats about that stuff.
The majority in Margit will almost certainly want it.

ArlingtonResident said...

Thanet District Council published a "Planning Brief" laying down requirements to be met by any development of the Arlington site.
Freshwater have completely ignored it and the council have the options of either enforcing it or looking like irrelevant idiots.
What looks most likely is that Tesco will be built, Arlington residents will lose their car park and have to pay £17000 plus per flat - and the derelict shops will just be left to deteriorate even more.

Peter Checksfield said...

Pessimist!

Anonymous said...

or realist?

Anonymous said...

Is the planning brief published? Is it on the TDC site? does anyone have a link?

Peter Checksfield said...

My point is 10:11 / 9:53 that even your worst case scenario will be an improvement on what's already there. At least the building will look good again & we'll have people shopping at this end of Margate (& I find it hard to believe that other businesses won't want to start using the derelict shops once this happens).

Anonymous said...

This just draws more people away from Margate centre. And will be the final death of Margate High st, and it will loose any remaining retailers. Do any of TDC's Town planners actually walk around our town centres and grasp the fragility. It is very evident ONCE outside the front door of TDC HQ.

Peter Checksfield said...

I strongly suspect that it will attract more of the shoppers that use Westwood Cross than distract those that shop in Primark. So at least it will be bringing shoppers to Margate...& I'm sure some will walk 5 minutes away into town while they're here, just as Tesco shoppers do a similar thing at WC!

Anonymous said...

If Tesco are made to pay to tidy up the exterior of Arlington House and retain residents parking then I think its fine however if there is no benefit to Arlington residents or the community then whats the point.

The scheme, as many have pointed out will probably bankrupt most of the residents in Arlington House, which seems unfair and will still leave all the boarded up shops along the seafront.

TDC are weak so no doubt they have already given Tesco the nod that they will get permission. So we will be left with a Tesco, boarded up shops and amusement arcades on the seafront and some rubbish theme park with old rides. Great, can see everyone flocking to Margate in their thousands.

The while situation is a joke and TDC need to actually do something about it.

Anonymous said...

I doubt very much if the people who come and shop at Tesco Arlington will do anything other than drive there, buy what they want, then drive home again. A Tesco on this site will polarise the two ends of the town even more, with the middle losing out.

Sad to say that Primark is the only thing attracting shoppers to the high street these days. Tesco, which will be like a mini WC on the town's doorstep, will undercut Primark, and offer free parking too. Once they've shooed Primark away the high street, which is already in its death throes, will finally peg it. Then Tesco will put their prices up.

Peter Checksfield said...

I've just noticed that the car park at Arlington House has been cordoned off for renovation / demolition (as has the Arcadian Hotel).