Eliza Mann and Anood Al-Samerai are very hardworking councillors: [email protected] or [email protected] I have no doubt they'll do whatever they can to help you. I've not met Hamish so can't comment. Alternatively, you could try Peter John, leader of the council, who is a sometime contributor to this forum.
I've just received this email from Anood, hope it's ok to post here:
Thank you very much for responding to the survey by Liberal Democrat councillors for Riverside ward about the proposed Tesco on the corner of Curlew Street and Queen Elizabeth Street. We have had an overwhelming response from over 400 residents and we have spent time going through each set of individual comments and making sure that we are using these in further discussions.
80% of responses were against a Tesco in the area. Even if we caveat this figure (as those against the proposal would have been more likely to respond to us), it is still an extremely high proportion and we believe that the council should take notice of this. The majority of the concerns related to the impact on nearby small local businesses, many of which have been in the area for a long time. In second place were joint issues of deliveries and noise. We know that these are major issues and have been separately doing some recent work with residents and the council about trying to tackle early morning deliveries and waste collections because they create such a disturbance already, let alone with a new store. Another of our real concerns, which was echoed by residents, is the special conservation area character of Shad Thames and how a Tesco really isn't in keeping with this. While we want jobs and services we also want to protect and enhance the area. Furthermore, there are several other Tesco stores nearby.
Discussions with Tesco
The responses from residents have been extremely helpful and, since collating them, we have met with Tesco to go through all the issues at length. They confirmed that they were exchanging contracts for two sites – the old Lovage restaurant and the dental surgery. We were very clear to them about the issues which residents already faced and how anxious people were about their proposal. They assured us that the design would be in keeping with the area and that they would be very careful about appropriate advertising and signage. They also said that Tesco stores can often help other local businesses as they increase footfall – we were completely unconvinced by this point and we told them so in no uncertain terms!
On deliveries they agreed that they would sign a voluntary agreement for 8am to 8pm delivery times which is great but we are keen to secure this more formally as part of any planning permission they may be given. More about that below. They explained they were planning for deliveries to be done on the Curlew Street side and we discussed the serious worries about noise and traffic at length. They assured us they would use the smallest possible delivery vehicles and that waste would normally be collected by the same vehicles which deliver. We repeated the issue of waste collections being a problem and they were clear that all the bins would be inside their premises and this was in their lease. Again, we were very troubled by any increase in delivery or collection vehicles and we pushed them on times and frequencies. We were told that there would be, on average, 2-3 deliveries per day but, when pushed, they agreed that staff would be arriving and leaving between 6am and midnight. We also raised concerns about Sunday opening hours and they were not helpful on this, confirming they plan to open from 7am to 11pm every day including Sundays.
Some of what was said, for example about delivery times and signage, was reassuring but it is clear to us that the impact on the community will be significant and we must make the cased as strongly as possible to the council and to Tesco about why it is not appropriate for our area. If it does go ahead we need to secure as many conditions as we can.
We have also taken advice from Southwark Council planning officers. Tesco do not need planning permission to the change of use for the restaurant site but they do need it for the dentist site within the next two years (they could actually start to operate two years before securing the ‘change of use’, but they are going to apply now as they will have to at some point). They are due to submit the planning application any day now. They will also have to apply for a licence to sell alcohol.
The planning and licensing applications are a good chance for the community to be heard and, as your local elected representatives at the council, we will support you every step of the way in doing this. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get either refused altogether as the presumption of the law is normally in favour of development, particularly something which provides jobs on a site which is not already doing so. Having said that, there are some clear issues to us which would qualify as legitimate planning or licensing objections and ought to make the council offers consider refusing or ensure that they place extremely strict conditions in areas such as deliveries, noise and advertising.
Apologies for a long email but we hope that this is a helpful summary of the current position and the work which we have been doing and will continue to do to fight for local residents. We will let you know as soon as the relevant applications are made and suggest some lines of objection which are the most likely to be accepted as valid planning or licensing reasons. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance or advice or if there are any further points which you would like to make which were not in your original response.