The small town of Hebburn, one of three urban centres in South Tyneside (total population 151,000) has been selected by the Council as the place for a "large supermarket" to address overtrading at Morrison's which is two miles down the road, and give more "choice" between several other stores which are at a similar distance. The aim, also, is to stop "retail leakage" from the town.
In August 2010 the Council and Tesco Plc were deadlocked and Asda, which owns the leasehold on the site, came up with a proposal for a new 1500 m2 supermarket, within the existing shopping mall which is very run down. The Tyne Crossings Alliance supports this proposal as a stop-gap, while seeking proper and sympathetic redevelopment of the whole. This proposed small scale development could in fact be integral to the redevelopment of the rest of the site, and in our view the proposed 1500m2 size is ample for the foreseeable future together with other shops and stores. Existing tenants can stay, and the future for local traders should be much improved. This begs the question of what to do about the rapacious so-called "preferred developer".The Tyne Crossings Alliance www.tyne-crossings.org challenged the process through the LDF consultation process. The alliance suggested that the maximum size of store allowed (4000sq m, and exceeded by the selected proposal in respect of comparison goods) was more than twice too big, and the selection process must be made public. By that time the selection had already been made, and the criteria for the selection have not been divulged.
Virtually all of the dwellings within the planned demolition area are Council-owned and let, mainly "social housing". Under the proposal 75% of the new dwellings will be sold to private purchasers.
Local traders supported the Alliance's submission to the LDF process, and the news of the appointment of Tesco as preferred developer elicited a very quick 5000-name petition. The traders had been consulted by another bidder on a much more modest and sensitive scheme which they welcomed - and which the Alliance would probably welcome - but this was rejected. Traders feel currently that by further protesting they will lose out both ways.
The Tyne Crossings Alliance is proposing to initiate a study group comprised of local residents and traders, to create a design brief for the future of Hebburn Town Centre, as local people and not Tesco PLC, want it. The intention is that this Study will become a 100% local residents and traders commitment.
The Alliance is heartened in its view that sentiment is against the proposals by the petition, now 5500 signatures, and a Shields Gazette online poll which gave a 61% vote against.
Bids were invited, each led by a supermarket chain, and were evaluated by a starring system and the largest proposal - exceeding the Council's own Local Development Framework (LDF) limit, by way of an additional commitment to "comparison goods" and proposing to knock down the whole town centre - was selected.