Village waits to hear on Tesco plansTagged as: local_communities
The community of Keyworth in Nottinghamshire are resisting plans by Tesco to build a supermarket in the centre of their village. After the local council refused planning permission Tesco appealed and we currently await the Inspectors decision following the subsequent public enquiry. Locals put a good case at the enquiry and Tesco were found to have submitted false evidence. However the village’s fate is still in the hands of remote, unaccountable officials.
For the last three years residents of Keyworth have volunteered a huge amount of their free time to develop a Village plan to set out what the people of Keyworth wanted for their community in the future. Following many open meetings, wide consultations and a postal survey of every household the Plan was developed, and one of the findings was that residents overwhelmingly did not want another large supermarket in the village.
Six months later, in March 2010, out of the blue came an announcement by Tesco that they planned to build a supermarket right in the middle of the community on land which had been earmarked for sheltered housing for the elderly.
Immediately the people of Keyworth sprang into action setting up a No Tesco campaign, picketing the Tesco exhibition of the proposal, lobbying local politicians, gathering evidence against the plans, and posters and stickers started to appear all around the village.
In November last year Rushcliffe borough Council rejected Tesco’s planning application on four grounds: impact on local businesses, character of the area, highway problems, amenity of nearby residents (note that the simple fact that the community does not want it does not carry any weight).
As expected Tesco have appealed against this decision, which lead to a public enquiry which was held over 5, 6 7th July 2011. In advance of this Tesco had modified its plans slightly. Its artist’s impression now shows a building which is less like the original glass plate warehouse (an old and cynical tactic). It also proposes a one way chicane in Selby Lane to address the congestion problems the supermarket would cause!
Witnesses from Rushcliffe Borough and Notts County councils gave evidence against Tesco as did several residents from Keyworth and experts acting for the local shops. On the final day of the enquiry the Inspector visited the site where he had to dodge pedestrians, wheelchairs, tractors, buggies, bikes and joggers as well as the usual run of buses, lorries and a Streetwise truck to approach the site along the road Tesco’s claim is OK for access.
The Inspector’s decision is expected by the end of July.
No matter what the outcome in planning terms the campaign has some real community benefits. At one level it has contributed to a stronger community by forming friendships and relationships within the village. At a deeper level it has served as a very real example to the people of Keyworth that our ‘democracy’ is illusory. People are saying this is not right, in a true democracy the people of the community should decide such matters.