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On this idea that Tesco\’s are complete bastards for hoarding building sites

It has been an epic battle. The planning dispute over the site of a supermarket in the Norfolk town of Sheringham has lasted longer than the first and second world wars combined.

Yesterday, after 14 years, Tesco emerged victorious, defeating townspeople who had fought to shield businesses from commercial competition with the retail giant.

Well, if it takes 14 years to get planning permission, wouldn\’t you have a stock of sites….say, 14 year\’s worth of sites for new stores….sitting and waiting in the pipeline?

7 thoughts on “On this idea that Tesco\’s are complete bastards for hoarding building sites”

  1. That’s taking the extreme end of the time taken to get planning and extrapolating for all their sites. A bit disingenuous. Most planning applications take months, maybe a year or two at most. However your case stands only if all their sites were in the “pipeline”.

    You do have a point (I think it was you or else I read it somewhere else, I can’t be bothered to check and feel free to take the credit anyway) where you said previously that’s it’s not supermarkets that destroy other shops, it’s people who abandon the shops for the supermarkets.

  2. The (fairly) new Tesco’s in Orpington took around five and a half years, including appeal and variation application. Add to that the pre-application faffing and you’re easily looking at, say, seven years or so.

    So 14 years is an extreme, but yes, you can start to see why the “land banking” is more of a backlog.

    Incidentally (but unsurprisingly), despite the “overwhelming” local opposition, the Tesco’s is doing rather well, provided 400 jobs just as the recession was starting to bite, and is providing a useful “anchor” for the best part of the High Street.

  3. NR

    As Tim constantly writes, jobs are a cost. Accordingly, how many jobs (and businesses) in Orpington disappeared as a consequence of Tesco opening its Orpington store?

    On (anecdotal) evidence, the opening of the Westfield Mall in Shepherd’s Bush is in the process of destroying local retail businesses and jobs in West London. I’m sure Westfield is a useful “anchor” for the “best part” of Shepherds Bush but its benefits are not costless.

  4. Umbongo,

    Point taken, but if the local economy is expanding then it doesn’t necessarily mean that 400 jobs in Tesco equals 400 less jobs elsewhere. The biggest competition to Tesco in Orpington is Sainsbury’s, who are now looking to expand in order to compete. This would suggest that we could indeed be looking at an expansion of overall demand (though in the midst of a recession it may not feel like it).

    So while I accept that the net figure may not be 400 jobs, one cannot assume that it’s zero, for that surely would lead one down the path of finite total wealth/slice of a fixed size cake argument. (I’m sure there are proper economic terms for this stuff!)

    We still have the fundamental point, as well, that it’s not the Tesco’s or local mall that is destroying shops or jobs, but the customers exercising their free will and choosing to switch their patronage.

  5. ‘As Tim constantly writes, jobs are a cost. Accordingly, how many jobs (and businesses) in Orpington disappeared as a consequence of Tesco opening its Orpington store?’

    I am not sure, but given you accept that jobs are a cost, presumably, the more jobs that disappear, the better.

  6. Sorry, but this Tesco versus local shops issue is beyond my comprehension.

    My village in Northern France is midway between two towns around the size of Sherringham. Both have supermarkets on their outskirts. Not the sort overgrown cornershops that Tesco runs but French supermarkets, a difference which anyone who lives in France will understand*. They sell everything. The cheese section alone in Bailleul’s LeClerk is bigger than many British Tesco outlets.
    Despite this both towns have busy town centres. Both have 4 or 5 butchers & the same in bakers, numerous veg shops, you name it theyve gottem.
    The difference with the UK?
    They both have thriving markets in the town square one day a week but the other days you can park there cheaply. First hour’s free, second 30 cents & no charge between 12.30 & 2.00pm.( French take lunch seriously.) That’s the only place in town you pay to park. The only stretches of street that are subject to parking restriction are where you would seriously impede traffic.
    Last time I was dragged kicking & screaming back to your benighted isle I spent half an hour tryiing to find a parking space in a small rural town between the ubiquitous yellow lines & ended up paying £3 for an hour of searching through charity shops, estate agents & empty premises for an ironmonger.

    My solution would be to identify that block of of sixties retailing & office that disfigures the centre of so many English towns, bulldoze it flat & put the cobbles back Compensation? Wasn’t the council’s land to sell in the first place. The original market charter wasn’t granted to a bunch of bureaucrats. It was to the people of the town. They sold stolen goods.

    * There’s one just outside Toulouse where you can’t see across it because the curvature of the earth intervenes.

  7. “…townspeople who had fought to shield businesses from commercial competition…”

    Well they could always shield their local shops from competition by, you know, patronising them, and leaving Tesco’s alone in their great big shed, but somehow I don’t think they will, do you?

    It’s called “revealed preferences”, I believe.

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