In Thanet at the moment there are plans for two new Tesco stores, one in Margate, the subject of some controversy on several of the other Thanet blogs and one in Ramsgate where Busy B’s is in Hereson Road.
The one in Margate needs planning permission, however I doubt that that will be an obstacle, as the one in Ramsgate is going into an existing shop building it only needs planning permission for ancillaries, like signs and air-conditioning fans.
The strangest aspect of this though is the parking in this area, this part of Hereson Road already has a school in it, very dense and often dangerous on street parking and frankly no available extra parking at all.
Anyway from my point of view here the main question is what are Tesco up to, here in Ramsgate they have a history of causing damage to the town, both architectural and commercial, so my feelings about their latest projects are filled with scepticism.
Back in about 1970 they built what was then the largest supermarket in Ramsgate (the building is now Wilkinsons) this along with the other supermarkets did considerable damage to the town, closing butchers, bakers, fishmongers and the small specialist shops that thrived among the more essential town centre shops.
Because of this Ramsgate town centre started to contract, what happened next was the movements of the supermarkets out of town, something that eventually closed down most of Tesco’s rival supermarkets in the town.
Sometime around about fifteen years ago Ramsgate town centre hit an all time low, two of the biggest multiples, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, moved out and I believe the feeling within the guiding management of the big multiples was that the town was ill enough to be left to die.
From the large multiples point of view, what they would like to achieve is to have all of the advantages the wholesaler and the retailer. By this I mean they would really like to trade in huge out of town industrial units and have the retail customers drive to these central distribution units. This had been largely successful in America where small town centres and the associated communities have often been destroyed, with all of the associated environmental damage caused by people driving to get their shopping.
However some towns in the UK seem to have bucked this trend, Ramsgate is a case in point, the large retail units within the town are for the most part occupied and even a new greengrocer and fishmonger has opened.
Margate as a trading centre seems to have collapsed and has moved into a state that appears to be beyond hope.
Now one has to consider Tesco’s strategy for dealing with the situation in both of these towns, in Margate this seems to be to try to create a new shopping centre away from the remains of the town centre, where Tesco control the parking.
Parking is a very big issue here as the more that can be achieved in terms of reducing and controlling the parking close to the town centre the more chance there is to force people out of town for their shopping. It should be noted here that one aspect of the new plans for Dreamland is to remove Margate’s largest car park.
In Ramsgate however they seem to be trying a different approach, that looks like a series of satellites stores in areas of high-density population in the suburbs of the town.
As I have said one needs to look carefully at the ultimate motives of the big chain retailers and remember that when you spend your money with them you are supporting their intent, which is to destroy your environment as a human being. Most of us have a habitat that is called a town, where that habitat is damaged, even to the point that it becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous to us our first though should be, who benefits?