Saturday 25 October 2003 8.06am
To start with, we don't know who owns the land. If Walmart have bought the site, then they are going to want to build on it. Argument that it should be a 'community space' are not going to work, artists or not, if the site is in private ownership. No business is going to use a commercially viable piece of land as an open space. If the Council owns it, yes in theory it could become open space, but in practice most unlikely. Land is probably in the Development Plan as retail, particularly as Burgess Park
is nearby, and of course there are issues of maintenance where open space is concerned.
Planning Committee can't legally turn down an application on grounds of competition, although I do agree about the threat to small shops and shopkeepers. Pollution from delivery vehicles etc is a valid argument but this would probably be the same whatever sort of retail the site was used for, not just Asda
. I have a feeling that this application will be difficult to refuse - Asda
is cheap and often better quality than Lidl or Aldi, and there are a lot of not very well off people around. Shopping in the Old Kent Road
Tesco's is a pretty grim experience and many people might be pleased to have a choice.
Fact is that Burgess Park
is a big open space but underused. It never really worked, for all sorts of reasons, including security issues, but drawing all over a vacant piece of land a bit further up the road isn't going to achieve anything. Sorry to be negative, but that's the way it is.