Monday, 16 July 2018

So what happened to Tesco?

RESIDENTS have criticised Tesco for failing to send a representative to an exhibition about its plans

RESIDENTS have criticised Tesco for failing to send a representative to an exhibition about its plans for a new store in Goring.

The supermarket chain, which wants to convert the former Queen’s Arms pub in Reading Road into an Express convenience store, displayed three information panels about the proposed development on Friday and Saturday.

However, visitors were dismayed that nobody from Tesco was there to answer questions.

The exhibition was meant to open at 3pm on Friday but more than a dozen people arrived at Goring community centre in Station Road to find the front door locked and the building in darkness.

They waited outside for about 20 minutes before contacting Tesco’s head office. The company explained the exhibition had been moved to a smaller room at the back of the building, although no signs had been put up.

Inside were the three boards briefly outlining the proposals using artists’ impressions.

One said Tesco would “like to share our proposals and hear your views” but gave no contact details.

The company bought the pub in 2013 and was granted permission to convert it following a planning appeal this year.

However, this did not permit an extension so the company intends to submit a new planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council.

The scheme has divided the community, with some residents arguing the store will fill a gap in the market and others saying it will threaten Goring’s independent traders.

Goring Parish Council opposed the previous application, saying the location was dangerous because surrounding pavements are too narrow and there is heavy traffic in Reading Road and Gatehampton Road.

Even visitors who support Tesco were disappointed that there was no one from the company at the exhibition.

Margaret Winch, of Gatehampton Road, said: “It’s a poor show all round and a real let-down, particularly for those of us who’ve come to express support. We want to find out more and discuss our worries so where on earth are they?

“A Tesco Express would be handy and I’d be glad to have one but I’m concerned about traffic and delivery lorries not keeping to the proper times.”

Jill Nicholson said: “I’m all for Tesco in principle because Goring has a lot of elderly residents who can’t drive.

“It’s a great pity they aren’t here to welcome us. They should be capitalising on their support.”

June Wicks, of Railway Cottages, said: “I’m in favour but worried that some shoppers might park in my road as it’s next door. There should be someone here to talk to us.” Anthony Jordan said: “We need another shop in Goring, especially for the elderly, and that’s an ideal location.

“The traffic only gets busy there during the rush hour. You see lorries mounting the pavement in High Street so it’s no safer there.

“I don’t particularly like Tesco but I’m afraid the store would be helpful for a lot of people.” But Rob Jones, leader of the Stop Tesco in Goring campaign, said: “All we’ve got is two or three banners with no new information about the proposal and I don’t think that constitutes an adequate public consultation.

“If they’re so confident in their plan, you’d think they’d have the confidence to come here and speak up for it.”

Maureen Lewis, of Elvendon Road, said: “It’s in the wrong location — the sheer logistics of that site won’t work and it’s dangerous for pedestrians.

“I don’t oppose Tesco in villages that have no alternative but this will take trade from the village centre.”

Phil Robson, of the Goring Gap Business Network, said: “Tesco could take 20 per cent off local businesses’ profit margins. That would be enough to turn many profitable businesses into non-viable ones.”

The new shop would have a 2,830 sq ft floor plus a service yard and chilled storage area, 14 car parking spaces with a 30-minute waiting limit and room for eight bicycles.

The company has promised a new pedestrian crossing and “footway improvements” at the junction with Gatehampton Road and says delivery lorries would back into the site rather than parking on Reading Road.

The shop would open from 6am to 11pm every day and Tesco says it would create about 20 jobs.

A spokesman said: “Our proposals were on display to update people on our plans.

“We will keep the community updated as our proposals progress.”

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