This is a letter from me published in the Ham & High on 26 February 2015.
Last week, Camden approved an alcohol licence for a new Tesco store on Belsize Grove. We’ve held a weekly street stall at the site, giving passers-by a chance to express their concerns about the development.
This is no anti-Tesco campaign. I live in Hampstead village, and like many residents, I shop at Tesco – doing my weekly shop for less at Tesco saves enough money to buy individual items from NW3’s huge range of high-quality small shops.
But I also know Tesco is not the best neighbour. Heath Street is not suited to the unloading of large, 15m-long lorries – nor is Belsize Grove, England’s Lane, West End Lane, or Swaine’s Lane. But as reported in the Ham&High, Tesco just pay the parking fine – racking up £75,000 of fines in Camden last year. Flouting the law is just another expense.
Tesco have requested a larger loading bay on Heath Street, which would snarl up traffic down the High Street and Fitzjohn’s Avenue – so was rightly blocked by Cllrs Baillie and Stark. But if Tesco accept the bays are too small, why not use minivans for their deliveries to mini stores? The vans they use for home deliveries are half the size and would fit inside the current loading bays at all their shops.
Tesco is rebooting its business model and pushing further into high streets. Now would seem the perfect time to make clear that if they are approved, they have to accept the rules their high street competitors play by. That might not solve all the problems, but as Tesco say, every little helps.
For more about my campaign to support local businesses, click here.