Jo slams ‘unwanted and unnecessary’ Tesco appeal


Jo has urged the Scottish Government not to allow Tesco to expand its Milngavie store and is encouraging others to do the same.

Since Tesco lodged an appeal at the end of July against East Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to refuse its application to expand its store in Milngavie, the Scottish Government has said that members of the public have until 26th August to submit their views on the appeal.

It is expected that the Government will shortly appoint a Reporter, who will decide how to proceed with the appeal. Tesco is disputing the Council’s claim that its plans contravene local planning rules because the proposed store would not fit in with the surrounding area, would harm local businesses and increase congestion on the roads. Campaigning group ‘We Like Milngavie’ is raising funds to pay for independent experts to provide advice on the matter.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I have written to the Scottish Government to make clear in no uncertain terms that Tesco’s expansion plans are not right for Milngavie. This appeal is unwanted and unnecessary – if Tesco were to consult thoroughly with local people, they could come up with a new application which would be in line with local people’s wishes.

“I am urging everyone who is concerned about these plans to write to the Scottish Government before the 26th August deadline and make their views known. ‘We Like Milngavie’ is doing a great job raising money to pay for experts to help the cause, if you can please email your funding pledge to info@welikemilngavie.org.”

All representations must be submitted by 26th August 2010 to:

Directorate for Planning & Environmental Appeals

4 The Courtyard

Callendar Business Park

Callendar Road

Falkirk

FK1 1XR

For full details of We Like Milngavie’s fundraising campaign, visitwww.welikemilngavie.org/who

The text of Jo’s letter to the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals appears below.

Directorate for Planning & Environmental Appeals

4 The Courtyard

Callendar Business Park

Callendar Road

Falkirk

FK1 1XR

19th August 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,

Tesco Stores Ltd. Appeal ref PPA-200-2008

As the Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire, I am concerned to ensure that the views of my constituents are given the utmost importance as the Scottish Government considers the above named appeal recently lodged by Tesco. East Dunbartonshire Council’s Planning Board has given sound reasons for refusing Tesco’s application. Along with other local campaigners, I have urged Tesco to revise its plans and submit a new application which is in line with local planning rules, rather than lodging an appeal, but to no avail.

The Planning Board had very good planning grounds for refusing the application, which I’m sure you will want to take into account. The proposed development would contravene Policy DQ2 and DQ2A of the East Dunbartonshire Local Plan, in that it would be visually intrusive and would not fit in with the visual landscape of the surrounding area. The store is also very close to the Milngavie Town Centre Conservation Area, as well as the Gavin’s Mill Listed Building, which means that particular care must be taken to preserve the visual setting of the area, as per policies HE 5 and HE 7 of the Local Plan. There is also significant concern that vitality and viability of businesses in Milngavie and Bearsden Town Centres would suffer. These must be protected under policy RET 2 of the Local Plan and Schedule 6(c)(i)(d) of the Structure Plan. As Tesco Ltd clearly disagrees with these points, I believe the advice of independent experts should be sought on these matters.

In addition to the planning grounds, I would urge you to consider the opinions of local people. In Autumn 2009 I carried out a survey of every household in Milngavie, asking for their views on the proposed expansion of Tesco’s local store. I received almost 1,000 responses – a response rate of more than 17%. Please find enclosed the full results of my survey, which show that Milngavie residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the development.

In particular:

• 66% of respondents think the proposed height of the store is too high

• 56% do not approve of the proposed size of the new store

• Most respondents believe the expansion is completely unnecessary and inappropriate for Milngavie, threatening local business, the atmosphere and style of the village, and increasing traffic

• Many believe they will have difficulty shopping if the store closes down throughout the development and feel it is important that it stays open, particularly elderly people who may be less able to travel to other stores such as ASDA

• Key issues for residents would be the new store’s effect on other shops, its environmental impact and parking provision

• Residents place high importance on having a pedestrian entrance to the store on Woodburn Way

I’m sure you will agree that the views of local people should be an important factor in deciding how to proceed with the appeal.

As you may be aware, the Reporter Janet McNair recently gave her approval to Planning Appeal PPA/200/242 on the Lower Kilmardinny/Westpark development to which the people of Milngavie and nearby Bearsden were almost unanimously opposed. Local people campaigned long and hard to stop the planning application from gaining approval, however the Reporter gave it her assent, despite admitting that it was not in accordance with the Local Plan. As a result, faith in the planning system is very low indeed among people in Milngavie and the surrounding area. The evidence would seem to show that it ordinary people and their democratically elected representatives have little power, in the face of private developers, to decide the fate of their own communities. It would be a great shame if that conclusion were to be reinforced by another case in which the decision of locally elected representatives was overruled by an unelected official.

I want to emphasise that the people of Milngavie are not opposed in principle to the idea of Tesco updating its store in the town – indeed, many would welcome it. However, there is a strong feeling that the current proposals are not right for Milngavie. Were Tesco to withdraw its appeal, consult thoroughly with local people and revise its plans accordingly, I feel sure that an application could be designed which would be welcomed by the local community.

Many thanks for your consideration of this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours faithfully,

Jo Swinson MP


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