Out of step
PUBLISHED: 09:49 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010
SIR, — Can I first thank your reporters for finally getting a decision from Tesco about their existing plans for St Albans (www.hertsad25.co.uk December 15). Local people and St Albans District Council have again been kept waiting for an unacceptable leng
SIR, - Can I first thank your reporters for finally getting a decision from Tesco about their existing plans for St Albans (www.hertsad25.co.uk December 15). Local people and St Albans District Council have again been kept waiting for an unacceptable length of time by Tesco, with the council facing the prospect of an expensive appeal. At least Tesco appears to have accepted that its plan was totally unworkable and would not win at appeal.
Unfortunately, as we enter the ninth year of this saga, Tesco has not taken the sensible step of trying to work with local people despite becoming ever less popular in St Albans. Tesco's London Road properties are still boarded up despite numerous promises that they would be available for housing. Local people have told us again and again that they want to use the London Road site for housing and a much-needed primary school. Yet all Tesco can say is that its new scheme for a supermarket will be ready "early in 2009".
Tesco's Nick Gellatly tries to justify this by claiming there is "a huge amount of support for a new supermarket close to the city centre" and tries to co-opt the recession by claiming that a store would be a "boost for the city in terms of new jobs".
The facts are simple - the overwhelming majority of people in St Albans do not want a supermarket on London Road. There are far better places to put another supermarket if one is needed. There are far better uses for this land. Academic research that Tesco has never refuted shows that supermarkets also cost 276 net jobs on average - how else are Tesco's profits generated? The last thing we want in a recession is another threat to the city-centre retailers.
Tesco has failed to deliver on almost every timetable it has given the people of St Albans. Perhaps it hopes that local people will drop their objections over time. Perhaps we will give in to glossy leaflets, dubious surveys and spin. I doubt it. Once Tesco's new plans appear we will look at them and make our objections known. In the meantime, we urge local people to remain vigilant for any new developments.
Bedford Road, St Albans.