Our Letter of Objection

Mole Valley District Council.
Pippbrook,
Dorking, Surrey
RH4 1SJ
10th December 2009

For the attention of Mr. Andrew Bircher, Corporate Head of Planning

Dear Sir,

RE: APPLICATION NO: MO/2009/1322

PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT OF THE OLD ESSO SITE, BY TESCO, ASHTEAD VILLAGE

This letter is written to detail the objections of S.A.V.E. (Save Ashtead’s Village Environment), the community group who are adamant that the revised plan entered by Tesco is still totally unacceptable. Tesco claim to ‘have listened’ but the new application only represents minor and insignificant changes and does not reflect the concerns raised by the local community, nor indeed the Planning Committee, to the previous application (MO/2008/1127).

We have heard only today that Tesco has confirmed that the measurements for the size of the store are incorrect, and that whereas they have been stating that that Retail Floor Area would be 750m2, they now state that it will be 850m2, resulting in a decrease of only 24%, compared to their previously stated reduction of 32%. The figures now confirmed by Tesco accord with the measurements that we have taken. Tesco now admit that they have not been comparing like with like between the two applications, and so any comparisons drawn by villagers in respect of the suitability of the revised proposals must be in doubt. Further, many of the calculations that are provided in the planning application and supporting documents are based on the figure of 750m2, and so must now be considered to be incorrect also. We consider the figures relating to traffic and parking, and the impact on local trade, to be especially relevant in this respect. Adding another 100m2 of retail floor space means that the figures given by Tesco would now be expected to be 13% higher.

We therefore ask that the following reasons for refusal are considered by the Officers in making their recommendations, and by the Members of the Planning Committee in making their decision.

The overall detrimental impact on the village itself would be on many fronts. The impact covers short and long term adverse effects relating to the character, amenity, quality of life and the economics of our community. Ashtead holds a unique position as the first village in the Green Belt as one travels out from London along the A24. It has not been swallowed up as just another suburb, but has retained its distinctive village character. The impact would not just be on the areas immediately adjacent to the development, but also on the wider area as its effects spread out to cover virtually the entire village. Ashtead is highly valued by its residents as a village and the proposed development would make it more akin to a town.

In Ashtead we are fortunate to have a wonderful sense of community and vibrant village life, in which the Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall and the local shops play a huge part. The village atmosphere is extremely precious and ensures a high quality of life. It deserves to be protected. The proposed development would undoubtedly undermine and destroy Ashtead’s unique characteristics.

Further to the error in retail floor area identified above, a number of other significant errors are identified in the analysis of traffic volumes and car parking below, leading to the question of how many other figures are incorrect. The errors identified understate the traffic and parking figures and therefore show that higher traffic volumes and car parking requirements than stated by Tesco will result.  It is certainly the case that the figures stated cannot be relied upon, due to the errors shown, and we believe that the potential impact of the errors means that it would be unsafe to grant permission based on the data provided.

Inappropriateness of development

Comparative Store Sizes

The proposal is too large, of inappropriate size and scale, and is out of character with the rest of The Street and Ashtead village.

The development is contrary to the directives of The Mole Valley Local Development Framework Core Strategy (October 2009), the Mole Valley District Council Local Plan (2000) and PPS 6 (2005). These state, inter alia, that the development must be of an appropriate size and function to fit into the centre. Ashtead is a village (albeit large), with a village atmosphere, and fulfils the functions of a village; it is not a town as Tesco consistently assert in their publicity and statements. No change of hierarchy or purpose has been consulted with the community. This is contrary to policies CS8 and S5.

From a conservation point this development, explicitly because of its size, will irretrievably change the character of the village. In terms of scale and mass it is also not aimed at fitting into the village setting. Policy ENV 24 says developments should not appear cramped and should retain areas round them to fit in with the character of the area. ENV 22 says that new development should respect the character and context of the locality and do no harm to its neighbours’ amenities. Policies CC6, CS14 and ENV23 are also applicable.

The store is blatantly planned to cater for a large catchment area (as identified in Tesco’s submission) which aims to attract customers from as far as Leatherhead and Epsom. It is obvious that for these residents there are closer and more convenient places to shop and that they will be unlikely to be redirected to this new store. This raises a major question about why such an expansive catchment area is identified, especially considering Tesco’s recent application for a much larger store in Epsom. The catchment area for the Epsom store completely covers the catchment area for the proposed Ashtead store. It would thus seem that the Ashtead store’s catchment area is merely to justify the inappropriately oversized store.

The Core Strategy states that the vision for Ashtead is “making provision for an increase in convenience shopping floorspace that is appropriate to the scale, nature and function of the centre and compliments its existing provision”. Policy CS8 states that “proposals which would harm the retail function of the centre, detract from its vitality and viability … will not be permitted”. Further, S5 states that “MINOR increases in shopping floorspace … will be permitted”. This is not a minor development; it is of Metro size. As stated above Tesco has admitted the proposal is for 850m2 of retail floor area. There is also considerable storage area at the back of the store. We understand that there have been cases where once a store has been, Tesco subsequently expand the retail area into the storage space thereby making an even larger store. A store of 850m2 is more suitable for a town. It would harm the existing retail function and detract from the vitality and viability of the village. Therefore this current proposal does not accord with the current strategies and policies.

The size of the building itself will be dominating seen from any angle of approach, it does not fit into the prevalent architectural style or roof lines and would be obtrusive and spoil the street-scape. This view is surely supported by the fact that on June 17th 2008 planning permission was refused for a development next to the Esso site (MO/2008/0690/OUT) partly because it was “by reason and size an over-development of the site and out of keeping with adjacent residential occupiers”. If the Tesco proposals were to go ahead, the whole character of the local shopping area would be destroyed.

Many adverse effects, with very serious planning implications, result from the inappropriate size and scale of this development.

Traffic

The traffic generation and consequent congestion, even at the levels admitted by the applicant, is a grave area of concern.

Tesco’s submission states there will be 1557 two-way trips per day into the car park, and out onto Woodfield Lane on a weekday, and 240 journeys in the peak hour on a Saturday, between 12:00 and 13:00; these traffic levels already horrify local residents. From research at other similar sized stores we believe the true traffic generation could well be three times that admitted in this submission (see attached documents on supporting research). This higher level of traffic would be totally unsustainable (policies DN2 & 3 & DN6). Local roads would become rat runs endangering local schoolchildren, for example at St. Giles School in Dene Road. The Local Plan (MOV 2) states: “Where a particular part of the highway network already endures high traffic flows significantly above its operational and environmental capacity, then only small scale development or redevelopment, which leads to little or no new traffic generation, will be permitted”, which certainly is not the case for this proposed development.

The Local Development Strategy Transport Evaluation (paragraphs 9.16 – 9.19, 9.24 – 9.25, 10.5, 10.8 –11) states that the A24 between the Knoll Roundabout and Woodfield Lane, Craddocks Avenue, and the approach into Ashtead from Epsom are already identified as operating above their capacity levels, with further significant increases predicted, even without a new Tesco. In particular, the Evaluation states that Craddocks Avenue (between the A24 and Barnet Wood Lane), and the A24 Leatherhead Road between Woodfield Lane and the Knoll Roundabout are 2 of the ten most congested roads in Mole Valley. It also lists Craddocks Avenue and the A24 Epsom to Craddocks Avenue roads as already “forecast to experience the greatest increase in traffic flow” in the next 20 years (paragraph 9.17 tables 9.1 and 9.2). It continues (paragraph 9.24) “These results clearly raise significant concerns about the ability of existing highway infrastructure to cope with anticipated increases in traffic”. At paragraph 9.26, it states “The challenge will be for the Council to use the information gleaned from the County Model Study as the basis for targeted measures to tackle congestion in these areas which have been identified as being at particular risk”; adding further traffic to these already congested areas would make the challenge even more difficult to resolve. Paragraph 10.8 states “Developments in close proximity to the areas in question should be subject to particular scrutiny and, as noted above, the application of Travel Plan policy in the Development Control policies DPD should take account of the proximity of a development site to areas known to be at risk”. A key issue is thus that MVDC say their own projections of congestion are based on an increase in these areas of 12% over 20 years. In Tesco’s Transport Assessment they expect traffic flow in these areas to increase by 22.8% and 24.9% respectively (table 6.1 page 16), and the admitted larger store size can only be anticipated to increase these figures.

There are several key issues of grave concern relating to the traffic generation:

  • The new proposals for the already dangerous Woodfield Lane/The Street (A24) junction are completely inadequate. Moving the give way line forward fractionally at the top of Woodfield Lane will further narrow the junction, and the restricted view is barely addressed by the changes. It is not possible to determine how far forward Tesco propose moving the give way line, since the only drawing showing the revised line is marked “Do not scale”. Therefore there can be no certainty concerning the extent of any improvement. We have carried out our own measurements. These show that the give way line can be move forward no more than 70cm while retaining the three 3m lane widths stated by Tesco in Appendix E of their Transport Assessment. This change would have an insignificant effect on the junction, still leaving a significant blind spot. If this were a viable solution to the visibility problem, the council would have done it years ago.
  • The site of the new pedestrian crossing at the very top of Woodfield Lane seems poorly thought through: drivers approaching it will have minimal visibility of pedestrians crossing the road as they round the corner into Woodfield Lane from the A24. The current railing by the kerbs force pedestrians to cross further from the junction, and Tesco’s proposal removes this safety feature.
  • The impact on Woodfield Lane is unavoidable. The lane is too narrow to be used as a major access and egress route for this level of traffic. The result would be a drastic change in the character of this lovely tree-lined road and the residences accessed from it. This is contrary to policies ENV 22 and MOV2. Woodfield Lane will become a rat run for those wishing to avoid the congestion on the A24 and the village centre. Indeed Woodfield Lane is already subject to traffic calming measures, as are two of the roads to which it leads (Craddocks Avenue and Barnet Wood Lane). The upper part of Woodfield Lane is a Conservation Area and increased traffic levels here would adversely impact on its specially designated status (Local Plan paragraph 4.180 and Appendix 6).
  • Rectory Lane and Dene Road also have designated Conservation Area status, as traffic and parking (see below) is forced onto the minor roads of the village.
  • There are already long tailbacks on the A24, both towards Epsom and Leatherhead, at the busiest times of the day, and these proposals would only exacerbate them.

Comparison to other Tesco stores

The attached analyses conducted by Tescopoly compare traffic volumes in Tesco’s planning applications, with actual levels of traffic generated. These show underestimates of traffic volumes by Tesco ranging from 35% up to 115% (i.e. more than double the predicted figure).

The two closest sized stores are Cowley and Ruislip Manor, 400m2 and 280m2 net retail area, and generating 350 and 412 trips per hour respectively, although the Cowley count was not done at a peak time. These figures suggest that for a 750m2 store, the hourly trips would be of the order of 650 to 1100, and higher still for an 850m2 store. Tesco’s stated peak weekday hourly trip rate in the Ashtead proposal is 137 trips, which is clearly highly inconsistent with the measurements taken at Cowley and Ruislip Manor.

Analysis errors in Tesco’s Transport Assessment

Table 5.1 shows the reduction in trips for the previous proposal based on a 2177m2 GFA, with the current 1386m2 GFA. However, the figures shown for departures in the previous application do not agree with, and are in several cases higher than, the figures shown in “Volume 2 Appendices to Supplementary Traffic Assessment” table 2.5 of their previous application, and so trip reductions are overstated.

Table 5.1 of the Transport Assessment identifies the weekday AM peak hourly trip rate as 69, between 8 and 9 a.m. Table 7.2 shows the arrival trips for that hour as being 68, a discrepancy albeit small, but more importantly all three of the following hours have higher figures, 99, 108 and 108 respectively. It is worth noting that the peak PM figure is incorrect too, 119 stated in table 5.1 and 117 in table 7.2. For Saturday, table 5.1 states peak trip arrival as 116, whereas table 7.3 shows the peak arrival to be 118. Table 7.2 also shows 75 arrivals during hours when the store is closed, and if this traffic level were correctly apportioned to the hours during which the store is open, the peak traffic levels would inevitably be higher. Again, table 7.3 shows 75 arrivals during hours of closure.

Figure 5.4 of Appendix C shows the Friday AM peak development flows. Unfortunately, this is based on the hour of 8 to 9 a.m., using 68 arrivals and 53 departures, whereas the peak AM arrivals and departures according to table 7.2 are 108 and 115 respectively, i.e. nearly double the figures used in the analysis. There are further discrepancies in figure 5.4; the diagram shows 25 cars turning left out of the car park into Woodfield Lane, but only 22 arrive at the junction with The Street, the remainder apparently disappearing.

Figure 5.8, Friday PM peak development flows has an even greater discrepancy, 53 cars turning left out of the car park onto Woodfield Lane, but only 40 arrive at the junction with 13 (or approximately 25%) disappearing before arriving at the junction with The Street. There are other discrepancies, for example the total traffic shown along The Street from Woodfield Lane towards Grove Road is 22 (i.e. just the cars turning left out of Woodfield Lane), but by the time they arrive at Grove Road, there are 33 vehicles, and also the “In” total is given as 117, but the numbered arrows total 118.

Many other examples can be given, but the above is sufficient to show that the data is inconsistent, inaccurate, and based on incorrect conclusions.

Although some of these errors are small, they nevertheless show that there is inconsistency and/or inaccuracy in the data used. Some of the errors are so large as to render the calculations completely invalid, such that it is not possible to rely on the conclusions drawn in the reports.

Delivery lorries

There are very serious concerns regarding the arrival and departure of Tesco’s delivery lorries, which they identify as being 16.5m in length. While Tesco have shown in their Transport Assessment (Appendix A) that there will be signs at the entrance from the car park to the delivery driveway saying “Delivery Vehicles Only”, that driveway is identified as being used by residents and office workers for access and egress in approved planning applications MO/2006/0492 and MO/2009/0963 which are for two distinct developments. Delivery lorries will reverse into the loading bay, but with other vehicles also using the driveway, there may well be cars behind the lorries that the lorries are unable to see while reversing.

Another concern is that it appears somewhat unlikely that 16.5m lorries will be able to turn out of the delivery driveway onto the A24 (The Street). In the Transport Assessment paragraph 2.4.4, Tesco state that the carriageway width is approximately 7m (our measurements show it to be 6.7m), and the distance from the front of The Curry House and the proposed Tesco, to the parking bay opposite is 11.3m. With the narrow driveway, our measurements showing less than 3.5m width in parts, it is difficult to see how a 16.5m lorry will be able to turn out into 11.3m. Even if the lorries were able to do so, the traffic disruption caused while they manoeuvre would be horrendous, and potentially dangerous given the proximity of the brow of the hill. Residents and traders alike are worried further that the ensuing congestion would result in the need to lose areas of on street parking. This too would have a major effect on trading levels.

Tesco state that there will be two to four delivery lorries per day, but evidence from other stores, including the Tesco store in Craddocks Parade, shows the number of deliveries is likely to be at least twice this, i.e. over 50 deliveries per week (please see evidence attached). It is understood that generally Tesco use separate lorry deliveries for items such as milk, newspapers and bread, as happens at Craddocks Avenue, and so it does not appear feasible that they will be able to make all the necessary deliveries to the store with only 1 further delivery per day. Tesco have already breached permitted delivery hours on Sundays, and also on Bank Holidays, at Craddocks Parade, in respect of which the Council has had to take action.

The proposed delivery hours for the store (7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sundays and Bank Holidays) are entirely out of keeping with the current life and trading patterns of the village.  For a development in this type of area, the delivery hours should be restricted to normal business hours, i.e. 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday only.

Car parking

There is grave concern that the proposals in respect of parking do not take into account the additional requirements created by the proposed store.

  • The additional parking provisions proposed are totally inadequate. Under Tesco’s proposals the total number of public parking spaces in the Peace Memorial Hall car park will increase from 162 to 172, an increase of only 10 parking spaces. Although the short term spaces will increase by a total of 45, this is brought about by the transfer of the 75 long term parking spaces into the 45 spaces in the Grove Road car park, resulting in the loss of 35 long term spaces in the village, and the loss of the 45 short term spaces in Grove Road. The Peace Memorial Car Park frequently is full or nearly full, and Tesco’s figures take no account of this. The additional parking requirements caused by the store thus cannot be met by the proposed parking provision. It must be anticipated from Tesco’s own figures that the Tesco staff themselves would require in excess of 35 long term spaces (and more at staff changeover times), which totally conflicts with a reduction in long term spaces. All this will adversely affect firstly, many Hall functions and the role of the Hall as a focus of community life in Ashtead, and secondly other village use of the car park, for example for shopping in The Street. The effect of this would be that parking would be driven onto the quiet residential streets around the village, including into the Conservation Areas. Also villagers would be driven out of the village for their shopping, thereby further increasing traffic congestion and reducing the vitality and viability of The Street.
  • Moving the long term car parking to Grove Road (which currently provides short term car parking) will remove a necessary resource from the south side of The Street.
  • Tesco have designated only 9 private parking spaces for the 9 flats. This would almost certainly prove to be inadequate, resulting in the effective loss of even more public parking spaces.
  • The proposal to limit car parking to 4 hours would adversely affect many Hall functions which last more than 4 hours. This would yet further increase the demand for long term parking, which Tesco currently propose should be reduced.
  • This development cannot go ahead without the agreement of the Council since Tesco requires that the parking provisions be changed. If Tesco were to take over the control of the car park, there would be no protection for existing users of the car park.
  • There is grave concern over what parking provisions there would be in the village while the store and car park are being constructed. This does not seem to have been considered at all.

If this size of store were built on any other site it would be required to provide substantial parking for its customers. A lack of the required parking provision is therefore a sound policy backed reason to refuse the application. It is quite wrong that a commercial organisation should seek to take over a public facility to the detriment of the local community.

Analysis errors in Tesco’s Transport Assessment

As identified under Traffic above, there are errors in the data and calculations used for traffic and car park analysis. In respect of car parking, the most significant is the incorrect identification of the peak AM trip rates, but also the figures used in table 7.5 for parking accumulation do not match the figures in table 7.2 for the same item. There are clearly significant failures in the analysis process that allow this to happen, which therefore brings into question the entire position as Tesco set it out.

Impact on local trade

The size of the development will have an extremely detrimental impact on the vitality and vibrancy of the local centre. This is contrary to PPS 6 which states that local authorities must have regard to the ability of the centre to embrace a development without incurring irreversible harm. The retailers are the glue of the community, which is not a role Tesco has embraced elsewhere.

An extremely important fact is that the store has a large back entrance from the car park. This back entrance would encourage customers to park in the car park, enter and leave Tesco via the back door, and not enter The Street. This would reduce the viability and vitality of the village. The probable loss of valued independent shops would reduce villagers’ choice contrary to the Local Development Framework Core Strategy policy CS8. Despite the provision of an alleyway, there is still significant focus on direct entry and exit via the car park entrance.

One cannot compare the possible positive effects of the small Tesco Express in Craddocks Parade (280m2) with this development because it would be over three times bigger and would stock a much wider range of products. The shops most affected would be those which are the shops that “make Ashtead Ashtead” e.g. the Greengrocers, the Post Office, the Florists, the Bakers, Butchers and Fishmongers, Alldays Co-op Convenience Store.

Tesco would thus end up dominating the Village. Ashtead would become a “Clone Town” as independent shops would be forced out. The ambience and vitality of the Village would be decimated and a change back would become impossible. Signs of this were seen when road works in The Street last year had an adverse effect on the local trade; the Tesco proposal would, of course, cause substantially more damage and be irretrievable.

By using the “Minor Need Justification” (policy S5), this store would prevent the entry to the market of a competing store. This is contrary to the recommendations of the Competition Commission’s Report which defined ‘choice’ as being a number of offers from a variety of suppliers rather than an extended offer from one. Ashtead already has a Tesco Express and a further store would not increase the choice of convenience goods, since it would be the same as the existing store in Craddocks Parade. Tesco already has stores in Craddocks Parade, Ashtead; Kingston Road, Leatherhead (One Stop Shop); Kingston Road, Leatherhead (Tesco Metro); and are proposing a new very large store in Epsom.

The village at present has virtually no empty units. With the closure of the Threshers store in The Street and the Wine Rack store in Craddocks Parade and the impact of the Tesco store resulting in further closures, and very quickly the village could have the appearance of being in decline. This alone would appear to be a very substantial reason to refuse this application in order to protect Ashtead and its valued village atmosphere.

Quality of design

The development is an example of poor design and fails to reflect the style of local architecture. The apartments fail to meet lifetime homes standards, do not comply with the current DDA regulations and fail to include the required amount of amenity space. PPS 3 asks that new housing developments are of high quality which contribute to sustainable, mixed communities. PPS 1 also suggests that designs which do not improve the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should be refused.

Pollution

The overall increases in pollution from noise, vibration damage, light intrusion and added emissions are further reasons why this development is inappropriate and poorly thought through. Pollution will be especially high along access and egress routes, and around the properties surrounding the development and car park, where noise from traffic, car alarms, banging doors, revving engines, trolleys and people, and the intrusion of all night lighting will be particularly invasive. This contravenes Local Plan policy ENV57.

Impact on neighbouring properties

Parts of the car park would be raised by approximately 4 feet, due to the proposed levelling of the car park to ease the movement of shopping trolleys. There would be retaining brick walls of approximately 5½ feet, topped by a 6 foot fence, making an overbearing wall of almost 12 foot overshadowing neighbouring gardens. The raising of the car park would mean that, in effect, cars would be parking up to 5 feet above the levels of some surrounding gardens. We feel that all this represents a totally unacceptable intrusion on people’s homes.

The resulting overshadowing of neighbouring properties entails a totally unnecessary impact on them. This would contravene policy ENV22.

This could also exacerbate local flooding, which is already a serious problem.

The Tesco development would destroy the amenity value of neighbouring properties. This is partly because the current car park would be extended by the proposed demolition of “Hobson’s Choice” in The Marld, extending the car park onto residential land, and adjacent to remaining residential properties. It seems wrong to destroy a home for the creation of a few parking spaces.

Destruction of semi-rural environment

A large supermarket would totally “rip the heart out” of the village. Our lovely semi-rural centre, especially around the car park and Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, would become soulless and alien.

Tesco proclaims that fewer trees would be felled with this new proposal, but they would still be destroying 47 mature trees. This is contrary to policy ENV25 which seeks the retention of trees. It is a saving of only 7 over the 54 asset out in their original plans. This is contrary to the Local Plan paragraphs 8.31 to 8.39, policy ENV53. The ambience of the village would be greatly harmed by the destruction of these trees, which currently contribute greatly to the semi-rural feel of the village centre. They help to absorb pollution (noise and fumes), and provide an important screening effect for neighbouring properties. Without them the village centre will look barren and depressingly urban.

We believe that any replacement planting by Tesco would be totally inadequate. Trees in such car parks find it very difficult to develop and thrive, witness the poor state of the trees in the Tesco car park in Leatherhead.

The extensive opening hours (6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays) mean that Ashtead will be busy all week, right into the night. There are concerns that this will bring the same anti-social problems as have been brought to Craddocks Parade. These extensive opening hours would destroy the village ambience outside conventional 9 to 5 opening hours, and especially destroy the relative sense of peace in the village on Sundays and in the evenings. Ashtead late night shopping needs are already more that sufficiently provided for by Alldays (Co-op), the Shell petrol station, and the Tesco store in Craddocks Parade.

We also have concerns about all the adverse effects this development will have on local property values.

Impact of construction

The lengthy and complicated construction period, which involves the building of the store and the raising of the car park, would have very adverse effects on the village and its community, due to the situation of the site in the heart of the village. There would be a significant diminution of the currently available car parking capacity, which would have a very detrimental effect on the local retailers and other village amenities including usage of the Hall. The resulting noise, pollution and disruption would keep people away from the village.

There is no consideration given to that access and egress routes of the high number of large delivery lorries that would be needed to deliver materials and plant to the building site, nor where they will stand will making deliveries.

Consultation

There have been serious problems with lack of public consultation. Tesco themselves acknowledge that there has been little to no public consultation.

  • Paragraph 6.5 of the Tesco’s Statement of Community Involvement states “To include residents and groups of interest who made representation on the previous application, Tesco have issued a flyer to all relevant groups, bodies and people advising them of the new application and the significant changes between the two schemes. The flyer has been issued to tie in with the formal submission of the planning application and provides a list of the key changes and also provides a web site address where anyone can view the scheme and the changes and make comments.” Appendix 3 shows the flyer and the distribution area of the flyer; however, many people within the distribution area have not received the flyer, including those who made representation on the previous application. Tesco further state that the web site address is “where anyone can view the scheme and make comments”; the web site merely contains a copy of the flyer, and we have not found any way on the web site to make comments.
  • There appear to be a number of incorrect and misleading claims in their leaflet.
    • Tesco state that the size of the development has been reduced to 750m2, which is wrong on two counts. 750m2 applies to the retail area, whereas the development itself is substantially larger, with Tesco themselves stating it to be 1590m2.
    • The 750m2 is understated in respect of the retail floor area, which they now confirm to be 850m2, to be comparable to the previously stated 1,115m2, resulting in a reduction of only 24% compared to the stated 32%. Tesco have now confirmed this figure.
    • The stated number of employees is “up to 50 new full-time and up to 50 new part time jobs”, whereas the planning application states 100+ full-time equivalent employees. The increase in staff levels compared to the previous application appears inconsistent with the suggestion that the store will be smaller.

PPS6 states that it is the right of the community to decide the future shape of their environment. 6,318 people objected to the previous plan, and they have a right to full disclosure on the revised proposal.

Public consultation is required to be ‘at a point where it can make a material difference’ and ‘at the earliest possible point’. Neither of these seems to have been met by this submission. Also Lord Woolf, a retired Lord Chief Justice, has said that lack of public consultation is reason enough, alone, for both refusal and for Judicial Reviews (PPS 1 and PPS 6).

The way forward

If a store is to be built on this site, we strongly feel that it should be much smaller than the proposed development. This would be in keeping with the other shops in the village. It should only have a front entrance on The Street, so that it would draw people onto the Street and into the existing shops. This would complement and support existing traders. There should be no change to the existing parking provisions and car parks in Ashtead which should remain available to the village in their current state. Tesco should make its own parking provisions on the rest of its site.

Conclusion

Tesco has not adequately demonstrated a local need for their proposed oversized store. They say they have demonstrated a local need, but who are the people who want it? Virtually everyone we have spoken to in Ashtead does not want nor feel the need for it. We already have a wide variety of local shops and a convenience store. We have plenty of choice of larger stores in Leatherhead and Epsom with a Tesco, LiDL and Sainsbury’s in Leatherhead, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s in Epsom (along with a proposed even larger Tesco), and Asda at Burgh Heath. Additionally we have a smaller Tesco Express in Craddocks Avenue. There is also on-line shopping and telephone deliveries available to those unable to drive. Many of the local food shops will also deliver on request.

Tesco have bought a small site envisaged by the local authority and residents as a small addition to infill the village retail frontage. Tesco are trying to impose a building for which there is insufficient space. It cannot be justified by any accepted method of calculation.

This is an unwanted development, attempting to force itself on our wonderful village. If allowed to come here, it would utterly destroy this unique community for ever. The majority of residents in this area have chosen to reside here because of Ashtead’s village atmosphere and community spirit.

The proposal is aggressive, with no regard for the people of Ashtead. Of course the empty site must be developed, but only in a manner that is complimentary to the village, and which is supported by the residents. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence to reject this proposal, as it would involve many contraventions of the MVDC planning strategy, as is set out in the Local Development Framework Core Strategy and the Local Plan, and also in Surrey County Council and national Government policies.

There are clearly significant errors in some of the data and calculations, with many more minor errors, the mean that it is unsafe to allow this application based on the data and analysis provided.

Residents have discussed the new submission and have once again found that the proposal does not meet with their approval. It is the community’s right to decide and we ask you, as our representatives, that this application is refused.

Yours faithfully,

Gillian Russell, B.A, M.Phil.(Town Planning), M.Sc.(Oxon), C.Q.S.W.
Gillian@SaveAshtead.co.uk
S.A.V.E. spokesman

Quentin Armitage, B.A.(Maths)(Oxon)
Quentin@SaveAshtead.co.uk
S.A.V.E. spokesman