HOINITON: Tesco relocation publkic meeting

PUBLISHED: 12:45 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:43 20 April 2010

CATHOLIC MOINKS EMPLOY CONSULTANT TO FIGHT PLAN A LITTLE known law could help Honiton's Roman Catholic community protect their church, a spiritual retreat and playing fields that have been described as the lungs of Honiton". Father Gerald Wilson, of St R

CATHOLIC MOINKS EMPLOY CONSULTANT TO FIGHT PLAN A LITTLE known law could help Honiton's Roman Catholic community protect their church, a spiritual retreat and playing fields that have been described as "the lungs of Honiton". Father Gerald Wilson, of St Rita's and the Church of the Holy Family, in Ottery Moor Lane, has employed a planning consultant to review Tesco's case for a new Extra store. He is concerned that Tesco has not considered pedestrian and vehicular access to St Rita's retreat, run by monks who are part of the ancient Augustinian Recollect Order, which generates 25,000 car movements a year. Many of those are for youth football matches on a highly prized green belt area of Honiton. Access to the site is down a lane, on a sharp bend, Father Gerald said. He revealed it is against the law to impede a Christian on his or her way to a place of worship. "St Rita's was not asked anything by Tesco," he said. "They did not mention us. "We have 25,000 car movements down the side of Ottery Moor Lane. "They (Tesco) have other plans, with a roundabout, just outside our door." Referring to the Church of the Holy Family, which is located at the junction of Exeter Road and Ottery Moor Lane, Father Gerald said vehicular access is in Ottery Moor Lane. "You might just be able to get into the church (car park). But, especially at times like Easter and Christmas, how do you get out?" he asked. "If the madness happens and the town becomes gridlocked, then people will be saying we need a compulsory purchase of land at St Rita's. It will be due to Tesco, not road problems." Father Gerald said promotional material for St Rita's prompts people to "come for a quiet retreat". He stressed: "I don't think it ultimately lies with East Devon District Council. I think the Highways Authority will have a lot to say. "How many fatalities have Tesco worked into their plan? It is dangerous." 'STAY PUT' CALL LESS than 50 per cent of Tesco's proposed new store will retail food, the meeting heard. A show of hands revealed that 100 per cent of those at the meeting favoured Tesco staying in Battishorne Way. At no time had anybody been forced to queue to enter the present site, other than at Christmas, Easter and the occasional Bank Holiday, protesters told the meeting. Some felt the new Extra store would be better suited to Cranbrook. 'LIST' BUILDING TESCO'S existing store, in Battishorne Way, should be made a Listed Building - to impede future development at the site and to encourage Tesco to stay put, said campaigners. WHAT ABOUT THE CARNIVAL? IF Tesco relocates to Ottery Moor Lane, what will happen to Honiton and District Carnival? That's what Lindi Polkey, of Honiton Twirl-stars, wants to know. She's concerned the carnival, which is currently enjoying fantastic support, could end up with nowhere to start. Mrs Polkey pointed out a return to Heathpark Industrial Estate was an unlikely option. A road closure at the Turks Head junction of the A30 would cost thousands of pounds and was not a favourable alternative with police. RESIDERNTS CALL FOR MEETING WITH DISTRICT IT is no good protesters talking to Honiton Town Council when East Devon District Council will have the overall say on Tesco's plan to relocate to Ottery Moor Lane. That was the view of campaigners last Friday, when they demanded a public meeting with representatives of the district authority. Not one councillor from Honiton will have a vote on the issue when the district council makes its decision. Economic impact of the proposed deve-lopment on Honiton's town centre, the need for a larger Tesco and the perceived horror of extra traffic on the existing infrastructure were all major concerns. Ralph Hibbert, chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for an independent economic impact assessment - saying the report submitted by Tesco was carried out by a firm that also acted as Tesco's agent for the application. He questioned the independent nature of the report. "We know Tesco's need. What about our need?" asked Mr Hibbert. Honiton resident Tony Simspon, a member of Co-op, said the Lace Walk supermarket had lost between 25 and 30 per cent of its trade when Tesco first opened in Honiton. "We have to retain the integrity of the town centre," he said. "We are talking about a multi-national. They (Tesco) are everywhere. They are a very, very acquisitive company and we can't treat it like any other store." Councillor Vernon Whitlock, the Mayor of Honiton, had earlier in the meeting pointed out that it was not material who the applicant is. Mr Simpson disagreed. He claimed the supermarket giant is about to "challenge Marks and Spencer head-on". He prediction Co-op would "collapse", if Tesco won permission to move closer to the High Street. Janice Sharman, of Kings Road, claimed the High Street will "be like the filling of a sandwich", with congestion at both ends of the town, if the development is allowed to go-ahead. "Why can't Tesco build up on what they've got?" she asked, attracting a round of applause. Ann Mitchell, of Bramble Lane, expressed fears about access to congested areas by emergency service vehicles. "It is very, very obvious from everybody here that we do not want the Tesco store. Can you give us an assurance that it is not already a done deal?" she asked. "It will kill our town." Councillor Whitlock assured the meeting that, as far as Honiton Town Council is concerned, everything is open and no deal has been done. Resident Don Davis said he is concerned Tesco will win planning permission for the new store and then seek additional consent for a distribution centre on Honiton Business Park. Derek Rackett said he had received a letter from Tesco that said the company would only consider putting a store in a particular area if it would benefit the whole community. 'TESCO, IS YOUR JOURNEY NECESSARY?' RETIRED Methodist minister Merfyn Temple, 88, referred to a well-known saying, used during the Second World War. "Is your journey really necessary?" He applied the same saying to Tesco's relocation bid, asking: "Is this journey really necessary?" 'YOU CAN'T APPEAL' PROTESTERS were told that, if Tesco's application were successful, the community would not be allowed to appeal against East Devon District Council's decision. However, if Tesco's bid fails, Tesco can appeal. CHANGED WHEN Tesco first developed a store in Honiton, it was Government policy for major supermarkets to be located on edge-of-town sites. Since then, however, legislation had changed. Residents were told the Government now favours supermarket developments on brownfield sites, closer to town centres.

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