Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Thanet Tesco and the human environment and a bit of a ramble

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?


  1. As I've pointed out elsewhere Michael, no-one seems to be offering the Westbrook end of Margate anything better. I'm not a big fan of Tesco, but I'm even less of a fan of shops being boarded up for decades. The Ramsgate situation seems to be an entirely different matter though.

  2. Peter I would look to see Tesco in Northdown Road boarded up pretty soon after the Margate one opens.

    In Ramsgate we were promised that the town one would stay open when planning permission was granted for the out of town one, so I wouldn’t take much heed to promises.

    But no I am not particularly against either development, what I am though is very interested to understand their motives.

    And from a purely scientific point of view as the recently actual measured rise in sea levels over the last ten years is double the predicted figures, that governments and scientists have been working on, I am wondering when the environmentally suicidal aspect of trashing our town centres is going to be addressed.

  3. And didn't Ramsgate town centre once have 3 Tescos? One at the top of the High Street (now Superdrug, I think), one in King Street opposite HSBC and the other in Queen Street opposite Barclays? Anyone remember? Any pics Michael?

  4. Maybe they're moving everything inland to Westwood Cross to get away from the rising sea? ; )

  5. 19.49 As always with pictures take after about 1950 I tend not to buy them, as unless I can find out who took them and ask their permission I can’t use them for copyright reasons.

    In a general sense I am always trying to acquire copies of Thanet pictures for this period with permission to use them and any help is always gratefully received.

    I believe what you are talking about here is something quite different to what Tesco are up to now though and related to a time when they were taking over smaller supermarket chains.

    What surprises me about the Hereson Road site is that they seem to have chosen an unsuitable site, something that seems likely to cause traffic problems that may even be dangerous, particularly in view of the proximity of the school.

    Peter the thoughts that I am getting from people I know in the scientific community at the moment are not so very good, for the most part though it looks as though the food runs out before we drown.

    But yes the part of Margate that Tesco have chosen is in a high flood risk zone, not so much to do with global warming and rising sea levels , although I am sure they will contribute, like the Pleasurama site the foreshore of Margate has had some sort of serious tide and storm related flood about every fifty years.

    I think the dip that the Dreamland site is in is one of the worst effected and I gather there are plans and funding for improved sea defences, for Margate that is not Ramsgate.

  6. Maybe they are trying to compete with Amco in Queen St?

    To put this in to context we are talking about Tesco's Express stores, which are not a lot cheaper than the average corner shop.

  7. Michael,

    I am no fan of Tesco. But whatever we may think of Tesco they do not make mistakes. Everything they do is a result of lengthy and through planning.

  8. That is supposed to read 'thorough' planning.

  9. The store Tesco is proposing in Margate is not a "Metro, but one nearly as big as the one at Westwood Cross.

    Interesting point about the future of the Cliftonville shop.

    Expect more boarded up shops in the high street and Westbrook

    I heard that a main aspect of the Arlington store will be home deliveries. Only hearsay from someone who knows someone who works in home deliveries at the Manston branch.

    Another strategic move might be to get into Margate with the intention to expand. Tesco towns is the new thing. As one of the country's biggest and wealthiest landowners, they have started building houses, schools, etc. The Arlington site is surrounded by developable land: the Dreamland site, the industrial estate on the other side of the railway - all owned by Godden.

  10. Michael, I don't think Tesco are working to a sinister plot to destroy towns, even if that is what they end up doing.
    I think they are intent to make as much profit as possible by selling as much as possible to most people.
    Hence they have the cheapest range of food which is usually cheaper than those European chains and Tesco finest range - desite the packaging it is not in the league of M&S or Waitrose.
    They are offering convenience - selling everything to everyone.

    The car is essential for this because of the volume of stuff we are going to buy when we get there.
    So the parking crisis at your end of Ramsgate town can only get worse.

    As for Northdown Road, I once heard that (surprisingly) this is one of Tesco's most profitable stores, per square mtr.
    Which could make sence in that it is the corner shop, within walking distance to a huge population of people who may be living on small budgets and may well not use cars to travel as far as Margate or Westwood to do their shopping.

    I used to love Margate and I lived their for a short time, now i feel like I had a lucky escape! I'm a Ramsgate Resident I think the best vision for our town centres is more independent, small and unique shops, like your Michael. Like the Brighton Lanes.
    This needs a lot of council backed support. Addressing business rates and car parking.

    I think there are certainly the people in Thanet and further afield who could and would come to browse and spend good money in our town centres (there is a lot of people with spare change in their pockets in this area, but you might not know it if you are in any High Street. The towns need to be attractive.

  11. I noticed today that the car park at Arlington House has been cordoned off (as has the Arcadian Hotel).

  12. When I say "cordoned off" I mean they've put high metal fencing around them (sorry, should've explained better!). It looks as if the top level of the car park is still accessable, but not the lower levels.

  13. Does anyone know if Tesco plan to demolish & rebuild in Hereson Rd (Busy B's) or just move into the existing building..?? Historically wise, does anyone know what that building originally was..?? My father suggested it may have been a small bus depot (East Kent), but can't remember for sure...


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