Video: Shock development in Lowestoft Tesco saga as councillors go against planning advice

Protesters outside Lowestoft town hall ahead of a planning meeting about Tesco plans for Tramway pub. Protesters outside Lowestoft town hall ahead of a planning meeting about Tesco plans for Tramway pub.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
8:34 PM

The controversy surrounding Tesco’s plans to set up a fourth store in the Lowestoft area took a dramatic twist tonight after councillors ignored their own authority’s planning advice.

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An extraordinary meeting of Waveney District Council’s development control committee saw members agree the Tramway Hotel in Pakefield is of a mixed use of pub and hotel.

Tonight’s vote went against council planning advice that said the Tramway Hotel in London Road was only a pub and so Tesco did not need planning permission to convert it into a Tesco Express store.

However the council’s head of planning Philip Ridley said Tesco could still move into the Victorian building as it would argue independent legal advice had shown it was just a pub.

If Tesco defies the committee and goes ahead without seeking change of use planning permission, the council could seek enforcement action to stop it. But Mr Ridley said he believed that could lead to an appeal from the supermarket giant as the council could have been seen to have acted beyond its powers by recording the building as of mixed use and going against legal advice.

Mr Ridley, in discussing the motion to record the building as mixed use, said: “The consequences of that action need to be carefully considered.”

The change of use motion was proposed by Gareth Douce, of the Kirkley Ward, who received a large round of applause from the packed public gallery.

Before the meeting there was a protest outside the town hall which had been organised by Pakefield Opposed to Tesco, which was set up to voice fears from the community that the new store would impact on other shops and cause traffic problems.

Bob Blizzard, chairman of the campaign group, spoke after the meeting to the protestors gathered outside.

He said: “It is up to Tesco to apply for change of use planning permission or defy the council, apply or defy.”

There have been 225 letters of objection against the plans and a petition of 2,500 signatures against the store, which Tesco says would create 20 jobs and benefit the area.

15 comments

  • The councillors have done what people wanted them to do. Thats not spineless and fair play to them. It's David v Goliath and just for a moment David has had a small victory,Tesco will undoubtedly carry on untill they get their own way,they show total contempt for anything that stands in their way be it small shops or community values. Personally I avoid them like the plague that they are.

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    kevin bacon

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • I agree with Jay. Tesco will undoubtedly win this argument, so the move by councillors is nothing but a populist one. The real problem with the Tramway being a retail store is the traffic. At a junction with already limited turning we will see vehicles frequently turning in and out of Florence road, and cars parking in the bus stop. However, these real problems are conveniently being hidden behind this smokescreen.

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    Anthony Gower

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Hello everyone , instead of moaning and groaning and putting all this effort into stopping tescos at tramways maybe you should all get a life and go up your local pub and support it !!!!! just once a week how many of you with all your signs in the window have every been to the tramways for a pint ? very few !! how many would go to tescos at tramways if your going to get a bargain and save a few pounds everyone one of you would maybe even get a job there , no other industry left in the town now only supermarkets and birdseye !!!!!!!!!!

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    mr right

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • When I say the councillors were spineless I meant that they have simply passed the buck, rather than having the strength of character to look at the application on its merits, listen to the advice of the legal counsel they employed twice, listen to their own planning department and have regard to the facts. Instead they bowed to the pressure of Bob and the protestors and have now left themselves exposed to potentially being sued. Certainly if this were to go to appeal then Tesco will win, it's a pretty straightforward argument and no doubt costs will be awarded against the council. Actually, perhaps the councillors were not so spineless after all as they could be in a bit of trouble now! For a council to declare a pub a hotel against all reasonable advice and ignoring the facts simply to try and block an application from Tesco is a pretty dangerous precedent to set if it is settled that way. Instead of this being a victory for the fight against Tesco, I fear all it is is a demonstration of how a council can manipulated to support their prospective MP.

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    Jay

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • The councillors have done what people wanted them to do. Thats not spineless and fair play to them. It's David v Goliath and just for a moment David has had a small victory,Tesco will undoubtedly carry on untill they get their own way,they show total contempt for anything that stands in their way be it small shops or community values. Personally I avoid them like the plague that they are.

    Report this comment

    kevin bacon

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Wow, what a dangerous precedent that is. Be interesting to see if Tesco gives this the treatment it deserves or not. I guess if the councillors are willing to defy the law and advice (from professionals who know what they are talking about) just because they are too spineless to go against the protesters, then why the hell would Tesco not defy the decision!?

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    Jay

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Far too many people in this region with far too much time on their hands.... Is there a development of any sort in this region that isn't being blocked in some way? Are we ever going to achieve anything? Anything at all?

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    Steady On

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • In 2012 WDC planning officers visited the Tramway Hotel and concluded it was of mixed use, hence requiring Tesco to submit a planning application for change of use. Tesco then submitted a legal opinion contradicting the planning officers findings. This was just an opinion as, to date there is no case law to back it up. Officers obviously thought that opinion was strong enough to make them change their minds thus declaring that the Tramway "Hotel" was now just a pub with rooms above. Campaigners strongly object to this decision, and the planning office then commissioned their own legal advice, resulting in the legal opinion that the Tesco submission and planning officers findings were correct, and that it was indeed a pub and not a hotel. Again campaigners disagreed and lobbied Development Control Committee councillors to cast enough doubt in their doubt in their mind to question the legal opinion forcing the planning office to ask the same barrister to visit the "Tramway" for the first time and submit his revised opinion. Of course, his submission was going to be the same because how on earth can you possibly ask a professional to contradict himself, declaring his first opinion was wrong? I expect you can now see where this is going? WDC planning officers thought that Tesco's legal opinion was strong enough to convince them to change their minds, and DCC councillors thought that the legal opinion given to WDC planning officers was weak and helped them to make up their minds. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but opinions are not the law, and while there are loopholes in the planning law, companies like Enterprise Inns PLC who own the Tramway, can just raise pub rents high, knowing that if poor performers can't survive Tesco will be there to move in with little planning permission required. In conclusion, don't blame communities for wanting to protect their local shops, of which one houses the only post office in the area Don't blame them for not wanting to see an iconic landmark defaced. Don't blame them for being a community that cares, and finally, don,t blame them for wanting to hang on to something that has been in their community for 110 years. As we don't want Tesco in Pakefield, perhaps we can point them towards your local!

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    Roaring boy of Pakefield

    Saturday, April 5, 2014

  • If this Goes against the local people then -without doubt-they should boycott the store and make sure to use the other stores nearby.BUT-I fear-complacency will -as usual-set in.The difference between saying and doing is profound in Waveney.

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    Barry Buckley

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • It is worth noting for the reader, who may not be a resident of Pakefield, or reading this on line. The store will be situated round the corner from a modern Spar supermarket which had the fore site to take on our local post office, and also opposite a Co-op supermarket, how MAD is that? The statement from Tesco this store will benefit our community is laughable? Yes, maybe 20 x jobs are proposed, which will be cancelled out when the Spar, and the Co-op go out of business. Tesco’s sole aim is to ensure both the Spar and Co-op do indeed go out of business, over the long term, which will ensure survival of what they will call the fittest? It’s a dog eat dog supermarket world we live in. Three supermarkets all in a radius of approx 50 meters is just nonsense, Pakefield residents know it, the council planners know it, and bravely some Lowestoft councilors know it, who have now voted against their own planners? Alas, for all the good intentions of many good people, it is all for nothing. Please do not read this as defeatist, but a real world reality check, in reference to huge organizations such as Tesco’s and our own flawed planning processes. We all know, and this is the reality, the council does not have the resources, the real will, but more importantly the money to fight Tesco’s continued appeals, which will surely follow. The inevitable is only a matter of time, and the one with the heavy duty legal teams & huge cash reserves will win, and sadly that is not the council nor the residents of Pakefield. Regards The Border Riever

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    The Border Riever

    Saturday, April 5, 2014

  • It's a quasi-judicial process and I don't see much in the problems raised by either previous comment. TESCO will take legal advice on the cost vs benefit of an appeal, and likelihood of winning an appeal, and if it's favourable they will build. That's where their millions hold sway- they can afford a top-notch assessment of the risk and the case, but TESCO can't make it not-a-hotel if the council has a fairly valid reason to say it is a hotel. It's only a dangerous precedent if there are a rash of pubs claiming to be hotels to avoid becoming supermarkets using specific facts about why they class as hotels. Councillors are legally required to make a decision using the evidence and their judgement so have acted 100% lawfully as far as I can see. They also do this for a large amount of their time and know what they want to achieve for the town, they're a vital if frustrating control to make sure corporations and bureaucrats don't have sole control of planning anymore. The Inspector from PINS will assess the evidence presented by the councillors, as well as the independent legal advice, will hear evidence orally, and do their own research. The decision will be based on whether the councillors had the authority to deem it a pubhotel and undertake enforcement action. With only this article to go on, the councillors argument is presented as being flaky and if this is the case they definitely seem to have shirked their responsibility to the Council and prefer to pay for an appeal and pass the buck to the Inspector on a contentious issue in the build up to an election. The article fails to give the councillors reasoning for going against officers recommendation- there must be some evidence that it should still be categorised as a part- hotel?

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    Paul Hunt

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • @Jay – This is not a “spineless” decision by the councillors. It is a rare (and, I fear, short-lived) example of councillors actually attempting to represent the views of their electorate. They are not defying the law; they have chosen not to accept one particular legal OPINION – and we do not know how, or by whom, this legal advisor was selected. I am surprised and pleased by the outcome of this meeting.

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    point du jour

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Why do people insist on blocking this? Are these anti Tesco or against the loss of their local pub? The same people will probably complain that local businesses are closing down. Don't they realize that this will bring in extra trade for local business? If you are upset at pub closures, they are closing due to people not using them.

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    Ray Mager

    Friday, April 4, 2014

  • Oh dear oh dear. So where does this stand now then. For the council to change its mind about the use of building surety this will mean Tesco can only win now. And with their millions compared to the money our council have it must only be a matter of time before Tesco get the go ahead or am I wrong. Does this mean the whole thing is still on hold?

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    vinny.p

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • If this Goes against the local people then -without doubt-they should boycott the store and make sure to use the other stores nearby.BUT-I fear-complacency will -as usual-set in.The difference between saying and doing is profound in Waveney.

    Report this comment

    Barry Buckley

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

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

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