posted 2 Nov 2012, 12:17 by Westover Labour   [ updated 2 Nov 2012, 16:03 ]
Day 2 of the Tesco planning bid for Bridgwater Northgate started with a radio debate on BBC Somerset Sound and the station continued the theme throughout the day.  

Westover Councillor Brian Smedley, speaking on the breakfast show, said "The people of Bridgwater have said all along that they do not need yet another supermarket and that this location is bad for the town centre and for local residents. The development going through would mean the destruction of one of the last green spaces in the town centre, lasting damage to traders in the town centre, a redistribution of lowly paid jobs around the town rather than the creation of well-paid new ones, inconvenience and long-term intrusion for local residents, and traffic chaos."

In the Emma Britton show the main phone in topic was 'Does Bridgwater need another Supermarket?". Mike Dodden, speaking against said "The Tesco Retail study itself shows that 47% of their trade is expected to be taken from the other supermarkets."

On the afternoon show Glen Burrows of campaign group Bridgwater Forward put her case against the Supermarket and urged people to see the plans and record their opposition.

Councillors Brian Smedley, Kathy Pearce and Ian Tucker canvassed people crossing the Brewery Field as to their views as they marked out the size of the store frontage with local residents . Cllr Smedley said "It became very apparent very quickly that now people are seeing the maps, the reality of what Tesco is planning and the Council is colluding with is far beyond expectations. People were saying they assumed it would be a smaller building on the actual site of the former Splash but clearly it will be a  massive building right up to peoples doorsteps and considerably reducing the green space of the Brewery Field. " Comments included "Who wants to live next to a gigantic shed!" and "So there was no need to demolish the Splash at all then!" 

"Chairman of Planning promises 'Question & Answer' meeting"

Both Councillor Brian Smedley and Cllr Graham Granter the Mayor of Bridgwater  wrote to Chairman of the Planning Committee Cllr Bob Filmer asking for similar assurances and especially holding him to his promise to include a site visit and  a public meeting during the planning period. Cllr Smedley also raised the issue of the application form  itself not being included on the web site documents. 

Cllr Filmer replied  " is my intention to deal with this application in the same way that we deal with other unusual, large applications that generate a lot of interest from the public, namely that before the application comes to committee for decision we will hold a pre committee site visit for members of the Development Committee only.  That will be followed by a question and answer meeting at which the case officer will set out the details of the application and answer questions and the applicant will be invited to make a presentation and answer questions.  Members of the Development Committee will be present but will not engage in any debate at the meeting.  The purpose of the meeting is for the questions and answers to give members of the committee an even better understanding of all the issues, which they can then take with them into the committee and to allow a greater number of issues to be raised than could be in the committee itself where speakers are limited in number. As with previous meetings, we will request that questions are submitted in advance so that we can get as many meaningful answers as possible."

Cllr Filmer went on to say "We have no definite timetable yet, but I would imagine that we are probably looking for such an event to be held, probably in the Town Hall and most likely in December. In terms of marking the site, I would suggest you discuss this matter with the case officer and Mr Atkinson as to what may be achievable on site. In terms of the application form, I can confirm that the council is in receipt of the form and that it will be appearing on the web site shortly.  In terms of validity, the web site has no impact on the validity as we put the documentation on there to make it more accessible to the public, however we have no statutory duty to do so."

Sedgemoor planning officer Rebecca Miller was asked by Councillors and residents about the process, how the public could register their views and whether the site would be marked out to show people the actual extent of the colossus . She replied  " I can confirm that the Tesco application has now been validated and is currently out for consultation. (plan above right)The documents are available online and there is also a copy of the planning application available for everyone to view at Bridgwater House Reception. The application will not be made available at the library or the town hall. However, it can be viewed during office hours at Sedgemoor District Council. The extent of the store will be marked out on Brewery Field, I will be discussing this with Steve Atkinson when he returns from leave next week."