Campaigning to curb supermarket power

Unthank Road, Norwich

Residents campaigned against Tesco's plans for an Express store at Unthank Road in Norwich from November 2004. Tesco submitted three applications, each of which was refused by the City Council planning committee. Tesco withdrew from two public inquiries, scheduled for August 2005 and December 2006. Tesco were eventually granted permission after a third public inquiry in January 2009, which overturned the City Council Planning Committee. Please see the Evening News, 29th January 2009.

In 2011 Tesco opened its 18th store in the heart of the city. The store is on a site known as Dial House, which is a former bed store and was once a pub, known as The Dial, on the corner of Dereham Road and Old Palace Road. Relevant planning permission is already in place, and Tesco were granted permission from the city council for a new shopfront and signage.

History of the Campaign

A campaign was set up to oppose Tesco's application for an Express store in September 2004, with 5000 people signing a petition and 500 writing objection letters to the Council. People were concerned about the survival of the neighbourhood's local shops and the area's character, and about increases in noise, pollution, traffic and safety. Norwich City Council unanimously rejected the application at a planning committee meeting in March 2005, attended by over 100 local residents. Tesco launched an appeal with the campaign gearing up to send a representative to the Inquiry.

In January 2006 Tesco then made a third application for a store on this site, ahead of the Planning Inquiry set for May 9th. Tesco asked that this application be heard well before the Inquiry, so that, if rejected, the two applications could be heard together at the Inquiry. Once again objection letters flooded into Norwich City Council, in response to the Residents' Campaign work and the local Green Party who have been actively supporting the campaign. Norwich City Council planning committee rejected Tesco's application in April 2006 and again, unanimously, in September 2006, with an appeal still pending on the previous applications. The appeal was due to be heard in December 2006, but was cancelled by Tesco in November 2006.

In October 2007 Tesco submitted their 4th planning application which local residents feel still doesn't address their long-standing concerns about increased traffic congestion, noise and reduced road safety. Please see the Norwich Evening News, 15th October 2007. Norwich City Council  received 425 written objections to the application - please see Norwich Evening News, 8th November 2007. However, the Planning Officer recommended the Committee accept the application.

On the 6th December 2007 the Planning Committee rejected the planning officer's advice and refused permission. Reasons for refusal included concerns about increased traffic, too few parking spaces and poor access for delivery lorries. Please see an article in the Norwich Evening News, 6th December 2007. On the 3rd January 2008 councillors on the Planning Committee again rejected the plans on the grounds of highways safety and congestion. Please see article in the Norwich Evening News, 4th January 2008. However Tesco appealed to the planning inspector, who overturned the decision of the City Council.

Top tips for other campaigns

ensure objection letters target planning issues in the application
do a detailed report as a group to the Planning Officer dealing with the application
2 days before the planning committee meet (no earlier), write to all its members a single page A4 summary of the detailed report
make sure press coverage is obtained at all key stages - Tesco don't like "negative publicity"
Consider an event on the site (if possible) which will draw media attention - - we organised a mass children's drawing session on "what I would like to see on the site instead of a Tesco" and decorated the site fence with all the drawings (200+)
Talk to Tesco's PR person and ask them questions about their plans - you can often get choice statements this way for the press, which you can counterbalance with your own

United Kingdom
52° 37' 11.6472" N, 1° 16' 10.236" E
Norfolk GB

Campaign Updates
Unthank Road, Norwich

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