Tesco comes to town

So Tesco is after Woolworth’s old premises – where they plan one of their Tesco Express stores.

Does the thought fill you with pleasure? Or with concern, perhaps that our smaller shops will suffer and eventually become empty?

It is said there is nothing can be done to stop Tesco and maybe you feel “okay, that’s life – the strong guy wins”.

If, however, you think there could be a detrimental effect to our area, you may at the very least wish your representatives to know how you feel.

Unfortunately, by ‘your representatives’, do not think we mean your local councillors or even your Council. They haven’t a say because Tesco’s business, as was Woolworth’s, is A1 (retail). It doesn’t represent a change of use therefore does not have to secure planning permission, other than for the signage which must meet Conservation Area rules.

Plenty of residents are content about this – better than a fast-food chain or a discount shop, they think. Others fear parking problems and increased deliveries that may accrue in and behind the High Street. Some are concerned about the possible future expansion of this powerful store.

Not long ago The Wanstead Society backed the Evening Standard’s SAVE OUR SMALL SHOPS campaign. We were given hundreds of your signatures which were passed to our Council. They supported the movement and also the allied Sustainable Small Communities Bill but, without having signed up to use the Act which came into effect in October 2007, their 'support' is meaningless.

It would be helpful for us as a residents’ community group, to know how you feel. If overall, there are concerns, we would submit our evidence to our local MP and to Central Government. Of course you may feel otherwise. Please say that, too.

What practical impact – good or bad – do you think Tesco will have on Wanstead? Do you think that a planning law which does not allow you or your council a say – as when a change of occupant does not represent a 'change of use' – need amendment?

Please leave your comments.

26 thoughts on “Tesco comes to town”

  1. I am not concerned about Woolworths being replaced with Tesco per se. I’ll probably use Tesco more often than Woolies, and it may drive up the pretty poor standard of the Somerfield as well.
    I am concerned about opening hours. Will the store be open late? If so, will it encourage the ‘yoof’ or more beggars to hang around outside?
    If people find it valuable to have small grocery stores on the high street, presumably they will continue to frequent them and not go into Tesco. If people would in fact prefer to use Tesco, the smaller stores may go out of business. There isn’t a problem with that (unless you hanker for a command economy of some kind).
    Where the problem comes is if the true cost to everyone, the area, residents and the consumers, is not reflected in the prices of goods at Tesco. If there are costs to the area that will not be borne by Tesco, then the Council needs to step in. Otherwise, consumers will just vote with their feet and the majority will rule.
    Imagine a possible positive outcome: the Tesco proves highly popular, attracting more people to walk onto the high street, not go to Tesco Leytonstone or Sainsbury’s South Woodford. More people there to buy other things in the high street…etc. Imagine if it opened at the Snaresbrook end of the high street. It could actually rehabilitate that increasingly shabby parade of closed-down premises.
    Starbucks has not led to the small high street coffee shops closing down (yet, at any rate; and Kylie’s Kitchen closed for other reasons). In fact there is yet another coffee emporium opening up at the old renal unit near the library.
    So to summarise: if there are other problems caused – such people hanging around outside late at night, litter, noise from early morning deliveries waking up residents, etc, then I am concerned. If not, I’m not too worried.

  2. Whilst in favour of free trade, I fear Tesco’s dominance will lead to short term predatory pricing that will undermine our genuine local stores.
    Once Tescos have eviscerated our high Street prices will increase and we will be left with vacant shops and the start of the end for the high street in Wanstead.
    Tescos already have a dominant local market position through their stores near Charlie Brown’s (0.68miles away) and Leytonstone (1.58 miles away. In fact there are 20 Tesco stores within five miles. Rebranding Britain Tesco Plc is becoming a possibility.
    That the council does not have the powers to preserve the character of the high street is a fault of the planning system.
    That Tescos is able to flood an area with 20 stores is probably our fault.
    I do not want an empty unit; nor do I want a “poundland” or huge KFC. I do however want to preserve the character of one of the fw parts of London that has not become an expensive retail clone. I would be happy to support any actions that the Wanstead Society deems appropriate.
    Paul Canal

  3. ide welcome it personally as me and my mates like to go to tesco and the nearest one at the moment is the one in leytonstone. as someone has already said i think people who keep the small grocery stores going will continue to do so as they are already competing with somerfields, the shop that has become so crappy its unbelievable. it will probably we put out of buisness and me for one will be glad to see it go. also shops such as the olive branch and nice croissant ( excuse the dogey spelling if its wrong) have survived the attack of starbucks. does anyone know about the rumoured pie and mash replacing kiley’s kitchen ???

  4. As much as it loathes me to see another Tesco’s I think it’s the only practical use for a unit of that size. As already mentioned in another comment it should also help raise the standard of Somerfield which is poor at best. I can understand the concerns of the people who own and run Londis as its direct competition. It is for me a necessary evil as the number of empty shops in the high street is getting a little high. The Snaresbrook end in particular needs some form of re-invigoration to get people to use the units.

  5. I live in Struan House, directly opposite the Woolworths site. On learning that they were closing, I was very concerned that the site, which is too big for any individually owned business to be able to afford to open a nice local shop during this recession, could re-open as a Macdonalds or KFC, with all the resulting litter and vandalism (chicken bones etc etc thrown over into our communal garden, for example). Another fear was that we could have a noisy bar opposite us, with late night noise etc. I am not Tescos greatest fan, however I was relieved to hear that it was to be re-opened as a shop. I shall be keeping an eye on opening times- I would imagine they will stay open as late as Somerfield, which has set the precedent. Even if they do open late and even if their lorries arrive in the night (just like Woolworths lorries did, relentlessly, every night- we lived with that) I still prefer it to the other realistic alternatives.

  6. I can understand why some are apprehensive about tesco getting its grips on our high street but at the same time its about time we had an alternative to Somerfield. I’d love to use the butchers and grocers but they are not open late enough for me to make use of them mid-week and Somerfield is just appalling.

  7. I’m a Tesco shareholder and I shop at Leytonstone Tesco regularly so have no general objection to Tesco as a brand or entity, I do second the comments questioning the need/desirability of having Tesco replacing Woolworths though. We have a chain supermarket on the high st already (Somerfield – I don’t follow why a number of people think it’s ‘crappy’ or ‘appalling’ though – any answers?) and Wanstead’s unique character is partly through its village feel so the more it becomes like every other high street in Britain, the less it is like Wanstead. I don’t blame Tesco for grabbing what is a prime retail site in an affluent area though. It’d just be great to have shops that keep the character of Wanstead special (admittedly not like the shabby lot down the Snaresbrook end where I live though!)

  8. We could do a lot better than a tiny Tesco (prices likely higher than the Leytonstone branch for the ‘convenience’ of it). Sommerfield is not very good, but a little Tesco will not be much better.
    I think there needs to be an amendment to the planning code–and change of code would be a good thing anyhow, as there is much we are missing here. How about a bookshop? Clothing shop? Music shop? Bookshop would be number one on my list, but there is a lot more that we could use. If Tesco wants to come in the are they should set up shop on the other side of Snaresbrook station in those empty storefronts–that area needs help and there are currently no food options for residents on that side.
    Some master planning would help here.

  9. I think a Tesco will be great! I don’t think the smaller shops will suffer too much – they’ve been ok against Somerield. Tesco will be much better for the shoppers – cheaper than rip off Somerfield!

  10. i personally wouldn’t be in favor of a tesco in wanstead high street, we already have somerfield which is sufficient. It will lose all character if we allow all of these chains to take over, we already have starbucks!! I would like to see a book shop or a music shop, something different and useful!

  11. I personally am not too concerned about Tesco. I will continue to buy my meat from the butchers and fruit and veg from the greengrocers. I only use Somerfield for household goods or milk etc and often use the large Tesco down the road for these items, so it will be handy not to have to go down to Leytonstone. That said, I hope that they will stock the same sort of useful items that Woolies did.
    I also wish that someone would open a fishmongers in Wanstead – I have to go to Borough Market to buy my fish. Rather than open yet another deli/cafe (we have too many now) where Kylies is, I would much appreciate a decent fishmonger. Surely with all the smarter shops that Wanstead supports now, there must be a market for fresh fish? Applebees rather frustratingly has a fish shop at Borough Market yet only operates a restaurant in Wanstead.

  12. I think a Tesco Express would completely ruin the charm of our independent high street (which has already been threatened by Starbucks) and turn the area into another characterless town centre. We need to support our local businesses who have served us brilliantly for years, offering better quality goods than the supermarkets. Surely the closeness of the other Tesco stores in the area and the number of them breach some sort of competition law? Tesco’s can be stopped, other communitites have done so successfully. Please let me know what I can do Wanstead Society!

  13. Whilst I am not at all happy with Tesco coming to the high street, I have not read anywhere that this is something that residents or Wanstead Society is able to put a halt to. I agree that the Snaresbrook end would have been better suited to a Tesco – but who am I to argue with the location officer at Tesco’s? I walked past the old Woolworths this evening and work has already begun. Do we have any say on the design of the shop front to make it ‘fit in’ with the high street conservation shop front rules? If so, then we should at least be pursuing that. Whilst in Clapham this weekend I drove past a Tesco Express store (on Battersea Rise SW11). The shop frontage was black and as such the Tesco signage appeared to be much more discreet. It was not as bright and garish as the white shop fronts and I feel would suit the high street ‘style’ much better. Can we do something to find out what the planned shop frontage design might be and at least influence that decision before it is too late?

  14. I hate Tesco and boycott them whenever possible. (This extends to all supermarkets but Tesco are the biggest and worst.) I fail to see the need for yet another chain food shop on the High Street when there are already lots of food store options. I would much rather something totally new opened up – say a bookshop/music shop. I would visit that frequently.

  15. Let’s take the word Tesco out of this discussion for a few moments.
    We are talking about a business that will require at least one, perhaps two deliveries, per day, from an articulated lorry.
    Then there is the possibility of more traffic converging around the Hight Street/Grosvenor Road/Nightingale Lane junction. This bit of road is soon to be narrowed – there will be less places to plonk the car and jump out and more drivers trying to do just that.
    These are two good reasons why the planning law should be changed – to allow locals a say in the type of business that moves in – at least to highlight certain implications and allow them to be monitored.

  16. While I agree that in an ideal world we should be supporting small business’s on our High Street, ultimately, (at least for myself) I need to be thinking about the pennies. Tesco’s is one of the cheaper supermarkets, and as such I welcome it. It will certainly be an improvement on Somerfield. I utterly detest that place, the staff are rude, impatient and obnoxious and the goods are ridiculously overpriced. Can’t bloody wait.
    Ps my flatmate agrees.

  17. I am very concerned about the new Tesco store. Firstly because Tesco are a corporation who have zero interest in how they affect communities – as is seen by their lack of support regarding government led child obesity initiatives, and their relentless focus on special offers on unhealthy food aimed at children. Secondly because the high street has limited parking as it is, and this will only increase the number of cars visiting. However, fundamentally, as the Tesco can not be stopped, it is our responsibility to ensure that we patronise the independent retailers on the high street to ensure that they are not too adversely affected by the new store. If we fail to do this, it will be us and our house prices that will pay for it in the end as it is the village style high street that draws so many people to the area.

  18. As a small attractive business established in 1988 I would love to relocate to Wanstead
    I realise that the Woolworths site is probably a tad too large for our company but I hoped they would split the premises. Unfortunately I am unable to find suitable premises, and, as a small independant I am not having any luck looking for a site. The retail giants have much more power finding premises.

    • I absolutely LOVE the Orange Tree shop on Wanstead High Street. Anytime I have a gift to buy for a frenid or a female member of the family I always head straight to this store where I am almost always guaranteed to find a nice unique gift. The selection is very varied, the prices reasonable and they have a great range of Cath Kidston products.

  19. in response to the tesco debate independents should make their mark and work together.
    This site is where you’ll find the best independent shops in the city. All unchained shops are unique, one-offs. None of them are multinational chains, they’re owned and run by real people with a passion for what they sell. Currently there are no Wanstead shops on the directory.

  20. shop local…
    Wedge is a reward card for local shops. It gives you access to hundreds of great offers from independent traders across London.
    Using a Wedge Card means you can help keep your independent High Street independent.

  21. I agree with Dermot. Why can’t we have a bookshop in Wanstead? And what is happening in the Snaresbrook end of the high street. It’s been so bad for the last 2 years! We need shops near the station.

    • There now seems to have been a further dvoelepment with this shop I walked past the other day and noticed that they are now peddling fruit and veg outside from underneath a tent-type arrangement.

  22. It was a former “Woolworth’s” site but, hey, who cares about details. Tesco is an incredibly successful business (locally, nationally and globally) and has added another dimension to the village’s business dynamic It is smaller than the Co-op so will stock less but will provide what local people need until late into the evening as opposed to the Co-op, which shuts much earlier).. I’ve been coming home from somewhere at 10:00pm and later and realised I’ve needed a loaf of bread, a box of tea bags and some milk and realised the only shop open in the village is ……… Tesco Express. What can more can be said ?


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