Friday, 20 July 2018

Council opposes new Tesco plans & hydro-electric plant

REVISED plans for a new branch of Tesco and a hydro-electric power plant in Goring have both been

REVISED plans for a new branch of Tesco and a hydro-electric power plant in Goring have both been opposed by parish councillors.

Tesco wants to convert the former Queen’s Arms pub in Reading Road into an Express convenience store with a 2,830 sq ft shop floor plus 14 parking bays, cold storage and a service yard.

Initially the retailer only sought consent for minor works like signage, which the parish council opposed as it believed a store in that location would pose a traffic hazard.

That application was approved after Tesco successfully appealed against South Oxfordshire District Council’s refusal to determine it.

Now the parish council has opposed the full application on the same grounds, saying the pavements in Gatehampton Road are too narrow and there are too few parking places.

On Tuesday, a meeting of the council’s planning committee heard claims by objectors that Tesco’s traffic safety report underestimated the number of pedestrians who currently pass the site by saying it was 215 per day, not 458.

Opponent Tom Worthington said: “If that store is built you will have many more two-way pedestrian movements and that pavement isn’t wide enough for two people to pass.”

Tesco says it would only make deliveries in small, rigid vans which wouldn’t drive through the village but Rob Jones, of campaign group Stop Tesco in Goring, said he didn’t believe this.

He produced photographs of large articulated lorries supplying Express stores in Cholsey, Marlow and Hampstead, where they were mounting the pavement and blocking traffic.

Mr Jones said: “If this goes ahead, do you honestly think the district council has the resources to enforce a condition on the size of the lorries? Last year Tesco paid thousands of pounds’ worth of fines in Camden alone. It just treats that as the cost of doing business.”

But John Boler, chairman of Goring’s mobility issues group, said the shop would offer greater choice for shoppers and discourage people from driving to convenience stores elsewhere.

He said: “I believe it would have a positive impact. The extent of local support for this has been underestimated while opposition has been overestimated.” Councillor Matthew Brown said: “I believe, contrary to opponents’ claims, that the village is split at least 50:50 on this. Many, in fact, probably don’t care either way.

“However, the objections delivered tonight have been eye-opening. I dislike incorrect data and what has been highlighted really worries me.”

Councillor John Wills said: “They will need three of those parking spaces to be free when they take a delivery and I don’t believe staff will have time to ensure that. Those lorries will end up parking and unloading on a dangerous corner.”

Chairman David Brooker said: “Unfortunately we live in a culture where people park wherever they like. There aren’t enough spaces and people will just end up stopping on double yellow lines or in Railway Cottages and Whitehills Green, which will annoy residents.”

Meanwhile, the Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group wants to build a £1.5million hydro-electric power plant at Goring weir.

This would comprise three 12ft wide Archimedes screws off the western bank of Goring lock island, which it says would generate enough power for 300 homes per year. It would operate as a community venture, selling the energy to the National Grid under the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme and giving a share of the proceeds to green projects.

The council objected in November, saying it would spoil the view from Goring bridge, so the group moved a proposed generator room further east to the island.

However, members said it remained unsightly and didn’t address their concerns about the project’s viability or a possible increased flood risk.

Cllr Wills said: “It’s in a conservation area between two areas of outstanding natural beauty and one of the most-photographed views in the village. The screws will look horrible.”

Councillor Brandon Hancox said: “We’ll get all of the pain and none of the gain. This would not be to the specific benefit of anyone in Goring as the power goes out nationally.”

Cllr Brown said: “I agree — there’s almost a suggestion that it will serve as a kind of giant extension lead but that’s not how it works.

“I’m not sure the finances make sense. One hears of such projects being shut down for months on end because the flow isn’t strong enough.”

The district council will decide both applications by the end of March. It is inviting comments until next week.

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