Calls were made this week for a public referendum to be held over Tesco’s plans to open a fourth store in the Lowestoft area as hundreds of people demonstrate their opposition to the move.

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Campaigners have now collected 1,500 names on a petition against the supermarket giant’s controversial proposals to open a new Tesco Express at the historic Tramway Hotel in London Road, Pakefield.

But this week, as more concerns were voiced about the store’s potential impact on existing shops and businesses, the company made its first step towards seeking planning permission.

Tesco announced three weeks ago that it had secured the lease on the hotel, which stands at the southern terminus of the town’s former tram line, and that it proposed to convert it into a new store.

This week, it submitted an application to Waveney District Council, seeking permission for the “construction of two single storey rear extensions” at The Tramway, which remains open for business.

A council spokesman confirmed yesterday that it had received the application – its first official notification of its plans for the site. The application seeks planning consent to extend the building and says “the proposed works are associated with the permitted retail use to create a store that Tesco can operate from”.

Meanwhile campaigners have been mobilising their opposition to the company’s proposals.

Speaking on behalf of Waveney’s Pakefield councillors, Sonia Barker, deputy Labour group leader, said: “It is vital the whole process is fair and transparent and to this end we are seeking advice on holding a Local Referendum (as allowed under the Localism Act 2011) to ascertain the views of Pakefield residents on this vital matter.”

With more than 1,500 people having signed the petition opposing the plans, objectors are also being urged to attend a public meeting at 11am on Saturday, December 1, organised by local residents.

Hilary Lepine, who lives in Florence Road, said: “We’ve set up a small group to co-ordinate itself now that the planning application has been submitted and ahead of the standard consultation period.

“We’ve organised the public meeting at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield, facilitated by Bob Blizzard, with the purpose of making everyone aware of what’s going on and encouraging everyone to write letters of objection to the planning department... We hope the meeting will be successful and we can achieve our objectives as there’s a wealth of very strong feeling against the plans.”

After being contacted by people and businesses in Pakefield over the potential impact of the new store, Waveney MP Peter Aldous has also become involved. He said he had raised “various concerns” with Waveney’s planning department, asking it to consider whether the The Tramway was currently being used as a hotel rather than a pub.

This could have a major bearing on the final decision on Tesco’s application as the planning restrictions governing the proposed conversion of hotels are more stringent than those applying to pubs.

“While this is a decision for Waveney District Council I strongly believe the voice of local residents and businesses must be heard and a full planning application should be submitted by Tesco to allow this,” Mr Aldous said.

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, has asked Waveney to insist that Tesco submits a planning application if it wishes to change the use of The Tramway to a foodstore.

Mr Blizzard said: “People definitely want to have a say on this matter and a planning application is the only way they can make their voice count. It would be wrong of the council to deny people this opportunity.”

Paul Hobbs, chairman of the Promoting Pakefield Group, said: “If people want to see a proper and considered approach to the proposed development by Tesco, please write or email Waveney’s planning office asking them to recognise that the building is named and designated as a hotel and that, accordingly, it requires a proper planning procedure to be redeveloped, allowing the formation of a neighbourhood planning referendum.”

Yesterday, David Ritchie, Waveney’s cabinet member for planning said: “We are aware of the concerns that the plans for this public house are causing and it would be fair to say that, as a council, we share those concerns. We are of course, as always, bound by planning law and we must be cautious about what can realistically be achieved. “However, this is a matter we are discussing as a priority and we are closely examining the options that are open, both to us and to the numerous correspondents who have expressed their opinions about the proposals.”

● Postbox – page 20

What do you think?

7 comments

  • I don't think this comments section permits links, so if you want to look at the plans go to the Waveney DC website, click on 'Planning', then 'Public Access', then 'Planning' (again!), then 'Application Search', put in the reference number DC121350FUL, this should bring up the Tramway application. 'Click to view' will reveal the details. You will be able to make your comment via that page too if you wish.

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    point du jour

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • David Ritchie's words "we must be cautious about what can realistically be achieved" sound very much like a capitulation to me. Come on Waveney DC Planning Committee, make an effort with this one and try to give your residents what they want for a change.

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    point du jour

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Yet again common sense goes out the window as soon as Tesco's name is mentioned. All these people complaining for no logical reason does get a little tiresome as the minority shout loudest and think they are represent the masses. Politicians hype it all up for a bit of cheap publicity and self promotion. Reality is that Tesco have been successful because they are very well run and give the majority of the public what they want. If people really did not want them, they wouldn't shop with them and Tesco would not trade well enough to be bold enough to consider taking on more premises. Those that complain need to understand this. In the case of the Tramway, the pub has traded poorly for years, like so many pubs - main reason being that lifestyles have changed. Tesco will preserve the building by refurbishing it and maintaining it far better than any pub tenant has done for years. If all these people that purport to be so upset about losing a much needed pub then they should have actually used it. It will not have been let to Tesco had it been well used, fact. If Tesco open and people do not want to use the shop, then don't and keep using the other shops. They won't though, as they are hypocrites. Do these same people complain about Google, Apple, Virgin etc, who all run very successful businesses giving people what they want and putting other, less successful businesses out of businesses......I think not, why? Good question. Whilst it is sad that some small businesses are not developing the way they should and some pubs are no longer wanted, it is not Tesco's fault, it is the fault of the average consumer who always votes with their feet (and purses) and not by signing stupid, ill conceived petitions.

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    Jay

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • I agree with Jay 100%. I have nothing against the plans and don't see a problem. I notice Mr.Hobbs is against the plans but I bet he voted for the Tory council and they are the ones who reduced the planning laws so they only have themselves.to blame for voting the Tory council in. So bring it on Tesco and I will be writing a letter to the planners in favour of the plans.

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    vinny.p

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • hey mr tesco . dont forget us people at harleston would more than welcome one of your stores here.

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    pongo

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • It has to be said, some people get paid to leave comments for or against some planning issues. If the result of an expensive referendum goes against the store, what does this mean to cllr.'s? will they exceed their mandate by still considering it? will those who still want to go against such 'mandate' consider resigning, rather than going against their constituents wishes? lest not have newspaper polls decide on issues, this is a matter for voters to decide, well, those that still can be bothered that is.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • VinnyP and Jay should take a look at the Tescopoly website - quite an education about corporate greed etc.! What is needed is a cretaive idea for usng the Tramways site - it could even be taken into Council control and re-reveloped as social housing. It is a shame that it has failed as a pub - but then it might have been better to run it as a tea-room or similar instead - no competition and plenty of passing pedestrian trade.

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    Dogberry

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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