Sad News – Tesco Metro Approved

“Thank you so much for all your messages of support and thanks, which have been flooding in since the final decision was made”

On Tuesday 11th September 2012 the Development Control Committee of Mole Valley District Council voted over-whelmingly to accept Tesco’s proposal for their Metro. We are obviously very disappointed. However, we have never been against a supermarket on this site, but wanted a smaller store with on-site parking.

BUT IN TERMS OF OUR 4 LONG YEAR CAMPAIGN THIS IS STILL A SUCCESS!

This is because we have helped to:

  1. Reduce the store size by about 2/5ths
  2. Prevent a large back entrance
  3. Prevent  trolleys outside the store
  4. Prevent  the raising and extension of the APMH Car Park
  5. Prevent the destruction of 60 trees! 

The village will thrive best if people use the local shops as much as possible and let Tesco complement, not destroy, the local retailers.

Regarding Sustainability, we are dismayed that Mole Valley’s own sustainability policy (CS19) has been completely disregarded by allowing Tesco an exemption. The Council has failed to take this golden opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to their own policy and the pressing needs of the environment.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard on this campaign and to all our supporters. Thank to all the Ashtead councillors who spoke against the Tesco proposal, especially  Cllr John Northcott and Cllr Richard Brooke who proposed the original motion to reject Tesco. Cllr Northcott cited ‘lack of parking’ and Cllr Brooke cited ‘not reaching sustainability targets’. In particular thank you to the only two councillors, who when it finally came to the vote, voted against Tesco – Cllr Chris Hunt (Ashtead Village) and Cllr Derrick Burt (Dorking North).

With our very best wishes,

Gillian Russell BA, M.Sc. (Oxon), CQSW, M.Phil (Town Planning)
Judy Smale B.Sc, MBA
Quentin Armitage BA (Oxon) (Maths)

Spokespersons for Save Ashtead’s Village Environment (S.A.V.E)

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MVDC councillors have voted in favour of Tesco’s planning application with 14 votes in favour, 2 against and 2 abstaining.

The Councillors’ vote is primarily based upon information provided to them in the form of a report from MVDC’s planning officers (The Officers’ Report).

Not surprisingly, the Officers’ Report is required to be a well reasoned, objective, unbiased, factually accurate analysis and summary of the position as put forward by the various parties including, in this case, SAVE. If councillors are not provided with such information by the Officers, then councillors are being put in the position of making an uninformed or ill informed decision. Clearly this would not be acceptable.

Early last week SAVE identified and informed councillors of material factual errors and misrepresentations of statements of others on parking matters in the Officers’ Report. As a result, the Officers yesterday issued an addendum (essentially they have added words to the section dealing with parking) to their report, apparently to address the issues raised by SAVE. However, the words now added by the Officers fail to address any of the concerns and actually include further material factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations of others’ statements on parking issues.

These errors are too many to list in full, but we provide below an indication of the extent to which councillors are being misinformed.

Residents are entitled to be, and should be, appalled at the Officers’ apparent total lack of regard for due and proper process, for councillors and for Ashtead residents who will have to live with the decision.

What councillors have been advised in the Officers’ Report

Actual position plus SAVE comments

MVDC carried out car park counts on 46 days in May, June and July so that “any visitors associated with the APMH would have been included”. The outcome of these counts supports the conclusion that there are “in the region of 100 spare car parking spaces, on most days, within the Ashtead car parks.”

1/3rd of MVDC’s morning counts took place on or before 9am (ie before the shops open) and a further 1/3rd on or before 10am before APMH event parking has peaked. The MVDC counts are totally unrepresentative of the true parking position.

SAVE counts have shown what Ashtead residents know, that the peak parking levels in the APMH car park are between 10am and 12 noon and 2pm and 4pm which coincide with heavy demand from the proposed Tesco store.

Nobody has ever suggested that there are parking problems between 8am and 9.00am in the mornings.

MVDC’s parking data is also flawed in other respects – on 19th June at 10.20am MVDC counted 30 cars parked in the APMH, but Tesco counted 72 cars parked at 10.30am, ie 10 mins later.

The MVDC counts are simply not fit for purpose and the conclusion drawn from them is totally unsound and discredited.

MVDC’s independent highways experts (Stilwell) have analysed the information submitted by SAVE.

Stilwell’s report actually states that they “assessed the significant evidence provided by Tesco’s Highway Consultant, including the surveys from West Molesey and the Council’s own parking figures”. Stilwell did not analyse SAVE’s parking data. SAVE’s data has simply been ignored

The Planning Inspector established that there was an average demand for 28 spaces in the whole APMH car park (ie both short and long stay).

The Planning Inspector actually said that the APMH is “often a busy car park” and that based upon the evidence presented to him parking demand varied by around 28 spaces, more or less.

The Officers’ misrepresent what the Planning Inspector said.

Surrey County Council Highways have concluded there will be sufficient parking available to support the Tesco store.

SCC Highways have concluded only on on-street highway safety issues. SCC Highways have reached no conclusion about whether there will be sufficient parking to support the Tesco store. The Officers are misrepresenting the position.

A survey carried out at East Molesey store demonstrates that parking duration is short but that SAVE do not accept the accuracy of the figures.

Tesco’s documentation states that the East Molesey survey “did not monitor the movements in and out of the car park”.

SAVE has not questioned the accuracy of the figures – there are no figures, because there was no survey.

The Planning Inspector concluded that lack of parking could (now changed by the Officers to ‘should’) not be a reason for refusal.

The Planning Inspector stated “lack of parking space is seldom a good reason to refuse permission for new development”.

The Inspector effectively acknowledged that lack of parking can actually sometimes be a reason for refusal – quite different to what the Officers represent.