Community leader slams Hipsey over supermarket plans
Date posted: 06-08-2012
AS YOU CAN see below, we have published the story of the planning application approval for a supermarket and flats in King Street, Stanford-le-Hope.
Community leader, Terry Piccolo spoke at the meeting to express a number of concerns over the applications.
He reserves his final criticism for cllr Terry Hipsey who gained a lot of support from local shopkeepers in the local elections in May.
Mr Piccolo said:
“There are a number of concerns I have regarding last night’s meeting, I think first of all I was very perturbed by the amount of time the committee were allowed to question the applicant. Rule 11 of Thurrock Council’s Rules for the Conduct of Question Time at Planning Committee Meetings states “A period of 3 minutes shall be reserved to enable questions to be put by Members of the Committee to the speaker”
Last night the Committee questioned the applicant’s representative, who is well versed in how to turn questions to their advantage for well in excess of 20 minutes. To my mind this gave the applicant additional time to influence the Planning Committee Members, thus removing the equilibrium that the three minute rule is designed to maintain.
I will be writing to Thurrock Council’s Democratic Services to ask them to look into whether this breach of Rules could affect last night’s decision.
With regard to the granting of permission I am extremely disappointed and feel the officer’s recommendation to approve had more to do with hitting targets than regenerating Stanford le Hope town centre. This so called supermarket is 33% smaller than Morrisons at Corringham which most people would class as small anyway, the argument that a supermarket of this size will stop Stanford residents traveling further afield for their weekly/monthly shop does not hold water, at best it may attract some customers’ that already use Morrisons at Corringham although being smaller I doubt it, but it will not attract those shoppers that already travel out to the larger supermarkets at Tilbury, Grays, Pitsea.
The only customers it is likely to attract are those that use the existing Tesco and Co-op in the town centre which could well result in one of these pulling out leaving a large old fashioned shop empty with very little likelihood of a new tenant being found quickly, and this new supermarket was meant to regenerate the town centre.
When the demolition and build work starts Stanford le Hope town centre shops may as well shut up shop for the six months or so as there will be nowhere for shoppers to park as the car park will be closed, and whilst it is all very noble trying to encourage people not to use their cars we all know that in the real world this will not happen, and once they are in the habit of shopping elsewhere this could well continue even when the new convenience store opens.
I do not see how the new decked car park that will provide 12 less spaces than the existing car park will be able to cope with the demand of the existing shops in the town centre along with this new convenience store if it is as successful as the developers anticipate; well perhaps I can, if people can’t park easily and possibly have to pay for parking if they can they just won’t come they will use Corringham instead which has more than double the car parking.
To my mind the approval of this development has sealed the fate of Stanford le Hope to being a run of the mill, uninteresting, uniform town centre and nothing like the image we were sold by the Development Corporation in The East Thurrock Masterplan where open space and uniqueness were to create the vibrancy to regenerate the town centre. The same officers who worked for the Development Corporation that sold this innovative idea to residents now work for Thurrock Council and seemed to have disregarded their own vision in recommending approval of this application. Doesn’t bode well for some of the other idealistic plans put forward by the DC that supposedly are to be taken up by Thurrock Council.
In approving this development it virtually prevents any other major improvements with in Stanford le Hope as they all depended on the use of the existing King St Car Park to drive the redevelopment, this application has now isolated an area of land which sits behind King St Shops and the existing Car Park where a number of large 2 ½ storey disused out buildings are situated. There will be no cost effective way to regenerate this pocket of land as reasonable access for plant and machinery will have been blocked, thus these buildings will full into further disrepair and become an eyesore and a potential fire hazard as fire tenders will no longer be able to access the site due to the decked car park.
Perhaps it is worth noting that during the recent elections Cllr Hipsey the Chair of the Planning Committee effectively canvassed the votes of the local shopkeepers in Stanford le Hope with many displaying their support, I wonder how they feel now knowing that he voted in favour of this development.