I do not work for a Tesco rival or any other supermarket. I am the owner of a small business based in Burnham, my company distributes children gifts. We do not have any retail shops. My business is not based at the Bishop Centre. I therefore have no personal business interest. However I do feel strongly that the Bishop Centre is a heaven for small businesses.
Yes, the Centre needs a face lift. Call me cynical but is it possible that Land Securities let the site run down so they could say that it needed to be demolished to be replaced by something more modern?
Quite a lot of people came to the exhibition; I am pleased to say that a great majority are against the plan. Most people agree that the centre needs a facelift but that the last thing we need here is another food shop when we are in such proximity of Sainsbury. Incidentally, Sainsbury has obtained planning permission to extend the shop in Taplow upwards.
Tesco did wheel out a couple of people at the public exhibition. Although I was impressed by the guys of Land Security, I was a lot less impressed by the Tesco lady. When pressed for questions on how many lorries would be coming to the site and when, she was unable to answer. On many other questions, she was not able to answer and told people to go on the Tesco website. A couple of us were standing outside and she came out to speak to us. She asked why I was against Tesco and what my interest was. When I replied that I was a local resident, she called ma a NIMBY. The next comment left me bewildered. She asked me if I would feel the same way if it was a Carrefour coming here. For those who do not know, Carrefour is the French equivalent to Tesco. Yes, I am French and this was a cheap shot. Two unnecessary comments from somebody that is obviously under qualified to represent such a large company. She also said that Land Securities were entitled to a return on their investment but that currently a great majority of the tenants in the Bishop Centre were not paying rent. Several of the tenants I spoke to vehemently deny this.
The Tesco Lady, I do have her name but will not publish it here, said that the Tesco lawyers were not involved and would not be involved in the planning application. The planning application is the work of Land Securities. She said that Land Securities approached Tesco to come here as they already had planning permission for a 30,000sqft food shop at the Bishop Centre. It seems that planning was granted in 2009. I have lived in Hag Hill Rise since 2002 and I really do not remember having been consulted on this huge change. Have you?
The actual plan for the Tesco store exhibited at the Bishop Centre this week is for a 55,000 sqft store, not 30,000. There will be 30,000 sqft of food; the balance will be non-food, changing rooms, etc… How long will it take Tesco to apply to change the 25,000 sqft into a further trading area? My guess is a few months… In the same way Tesco asked and obtained extended licensing hours for one of their Burnham stores. The tactic is simple, get the foot in the door and then creep up in size and hours. If the local authorities refuse, go to appeal. Make sure you employ a really expensive barrister so if the local authority loses, they have to pay for costs. And at the moment most local authorities do not have the money or appetite for those fights. A preserved tree in your way? Simple chopped it down during a long holiday, Christmas break for example, when most local authorities are not working. Once the deed is done, pay the fine…
It will not only affect Hag Hill but all the surrounding areas, Burnham, Taplow village, Dorney, Maidenhead and of course the Bath Road.
The SGT garage is due to be demolished and replaced by 65 flats. Can you imagine Institute road with a block of flats with not enough parking space? Why do planners let developers build flats with only one car space per flat? Most families have at least two cars.
Taplow Mill is to be developed with 300 houses. The only way out of this proposed development is the Bath Road just before Maidenhead bridge. This will surely require a new junction with traffic lights. We therefore will have traffic lights and extra lanes just before the bridge. The bridge can’t be touched as it is listed. We will have other traffic lights for the new entrance to the Bishop Centre scheme and again extra lanes but will have to go back to two lanes to go under the railway bridge before the Harvester.
The Wyeth site in Huntercombe lane is now closed and is about to become a mixed residential and industrial estate, both obviously coming out on the A4. Interestingly the site is on the territory of two different local authorities. Are they going to work together to make sure that the sites are not over built?
Are those the only local developments that will impact the A4? Probably not….