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Tesco row neighbours in boycott call

Businesses and residents say their objections to new store were not considered by planners

01 March, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Claudio Chapitelli, who runs Earls café, directly opposite the premises where Tesco are set to move in

SHOPPERS and businesses are calling for a boycott of a new Tesco store after the super­market giant won a planning battle at the Town Hall.

The go-ahead was granted for new doors and signage at a shop premises in Covent Garden, paving the way for a convenience store in the face of multiple objections.

Now neighbours and other businesses near the proposed Tesco, on the corner of Endell Street and Shelton Street, say they feel let down by planning law – which meant the effect the new store would have on them was not considered – and want customers to show their support by shopping elsewhere.

Neighbour Jessica Skippon claims last Thursday’s planning meeting at Camden went ahead without those who had objected being notified, meaning they were unable to put forward their case against it.

She added: “I live directly above the shop and with our neighbours we will be drastically affected.

“There are issues like double-glazing that need to be sorted, [and] wire cages, where the loading bay will be.

“Tesco was given permission to change the shop front and put up new signs, which is all they needed to get from Camden to open their shop on a small street. Our objections meant nothing. We have been let down by our landlords, Shaftesbury plc, and Tesco is coming in as our neighbourhood bully. None of us will use it – we will boycott it.

The Covent Garden site where Tesco have got the go-ahead for a new store

“What I find really shocking is that there is no protection for other shops from this unfair competition. There are shops here who will be directly affected by this – two convenience stores and a café – and they are shops which have been part of the neighbour­hood for years.

“They paid their rates, were good neighbours, but, in the end, a giant is allowed to come in and gobble up their shops. None of the three will survive, and Camden Council doesn’t need to consider that. Surely that must change.”

Claudio Chapitelli, who runs a café, called Earls, directly opposite the shop said: “I had a shop near Green Park for 20 years and it had to close because Tesco and M&S opened nearby.

“These big stores kill local independents. They can offer a ‘meal deal’ at a loss to bring people inside.

“This area is known for its individually owned shops. Instead, it will end up being just another faceless street.

“The traffic from deliveries alone will ruin the place.”

Their objections were echoed by the Bloomsbury Conser­vation Area Advisory Committee, who say altering the shop front with “brash” signage would damage the conservation area and that delivery lorries would cause pollution and congestion.

They were backed by the Covent Garden Housing Co-operative and the Covent Garden Community Association, who all put in objections.

A council spokes­-person denied objectors were not informed that the meeting was due to be held, and insisted that all interested parties had been informed, either by letter or email.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We’re always looking for the best opportunities to serve customers in Covent Garden and welcome this decision from Camden Council.”

Planning committee members voted six in favour, two against, with four abstentions.

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