posted 22 Nov 2012, 03:39 by Westover Labour
At todays Planning Panel meeting of the Bridgwater Town council members voting 4.1 in favour of objecting to the proposed development of a Tesco megastore on Bridgwater's Brewery Field. The proposal by Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour,Victoria) to object on planning grounds was seconded by Cllr Ian Tucker (Labour,Dunwear).

Protestors from the action group Bridgwater Forward attended the meeting after staging a demonstration on the proposed site of the store where they held up flags to show the scale and size of the Tescos. Their spokesman Nick Gibson addressed the meeting saying "I object to the building of this store for the following reasons:- The store is on such a vast scale that it is not suitable for a conservation area or a town centre development in a traditional Market Town. It is in a residential area which by its size will dwarf all local buildings, providing noise levels, 24 hours a day that the area has never experienced before. This area is generally quiet and extremely quiet in the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning. Privacy will be lost as shoppers and staff on vast first floor shopping and loading areas are able to look into gardens and through neighbouring ground floor and first floor windows. Loading bay headlights will shine into houses and flats nearby, Especially the flats above the Dock's pub, Geen house  and Valetta Place especially when leaving. The store will rob natural light and sunlight to neighbouring; small buildings , devaluing homes and causing Seasonal Affected Disorder, particularly to the housebound . The light pollution at night may provide more light at night than the shadows and shading do by day."

 Mr Gibson continued "Mary Portas has very recently opposed a planned new huge Tesco superstore on Margate seafront as it would damage the future of the old town. Huge supermarkets do not regenerate Town Centres!   Usually other shops close cancelling out the benefits brought by 'new jobs'.   Asda in Bridgwater did not bring trade to adjacent Eastover.  The famous 'Rope Walk' for shoppers from Sainsburys to walk to the Town Centre brought very few.    When you have fresh and frozen food in the boot of your car you just need to get it home asap."

'Too big for the proposed site'

Cllr Ian Tucker said "Bridgwater doesn't want another supermarket and at the same time we're very short on playing fields, this area should be retained for leisure purposes. There has been no independent retail assesment and as far as I can see the result will be the same as in Shepton Mallet where it's just had an adverse effect."

Cllr Pat Morley (Labour,Fairfax) said "This is simply too big for the site it is proposed for."

The sole voice supporting Tescos was Conservative councillor David Baker (Con,Wyndham) who declared a personal interest as his son is a manager  at Tesco, described the Brewery field as a 'Carbuncle and an empty space' and said 'if only 2 out of 10 visitors continue to do their shopping in the town centre it would be worth it."

'Detrimental to the town centre'

Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley addressed the meeting supporting the motion to object to Tescos on planning grounds and said "I am opposed to this application for development at Northgate by Tesco stores on the following grounds. 1. Destruction of a  Recreational Open Space with no replacement being made available. The frontage is majorly obtrusive and extends well into the Brewery field, is too close to nearby houses and obscures established and supposedly sacrosanct viewpoints. 2. Impact on neighbourhood  Heritage Assets such as the loss of the former Northgate Workhouse  plus  the new development would not make a positive contribution to local character. 3. The development is  detrimental to the viability of  the nearby Town Centre shops and  unlikely to ensure sustainable  economic well-being .4. There is little architectural merit to what will be essentially a large shed which as such will impact adversely on the local environment causing long term disruption to an established local community.5. There remains concern that the  proposed basement car park has not adequately taken account of the water table and may further be influenced by tidal rise.6. The traffic proposals will result in chaos and contribute to a congested island approach to edge of town centre shopping and thereby fail on proposals to achieve linkage. I am sorry that Cllr Baker sees a green open space as a 'carbuncle' and doesn't feel the same about a giant shed and I believe the result will not be the enhancement of the existing town centre but the replacement of it by Tescos"

Acting Chairman Councillor John Turner (Labour,Hamp) added that a 17 point letter of objection had been received from the Bridgwater Heritage group which would be referred to in our submission alongside other comments noted by the Clerk but stressed that the Town Councils role was only advisory and 'We are not the decision makers.' 

top - the line of the proposed store frontage
centre-protestors on the brewery field
bottom - the side line of the proposed store extending well into the field.