Tesco towers to take a tumble

ConDems’ bad news for superstore chain in E9

New government talks of ‘people power’
Councils offered financial incentives for big schemes

Hopes arise for those Hackneyites who feel queasy about plans to turn the superstore site in Morning Lane near Mare Street into a shopping centre with 134 flats plopped above it — aka, Tesco Town.

This latest example of “regeneration” is vulnerable to a potentially forceful element of people power being introduced by the ConDem government.

The Conservative Party before the election was talking about “localism” through “collaborative democracy” just as the Liberal Democrats, now their partners in coalition, have been yapping about “communities free from Westminster”. As a result, the housing ministry will drop national targets for building new homes and some powers will move to councils.

Hackney’s newly elected council, dominated by Labour members in love with regeneration, is unlikely to listen seriously to voter protests against Tesco. But there will be a third-party right of appeal for local people, and that could block big construction projects.

Developers have already started a counter-offensive: articles have appeared in national newspapers and on trade blogs.  Taylor Wimpey described the power-to-the-people concept as “scary”, even though central government will offer councils financial incentives if they go along with such projects.

The new Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, nevertheless felt obliged to comfort developers, saying: “If we find that the financial incentives on offer don’t work, we will increase them.” So, a bigger bribe for councils to co-operate with mega-size developments.

The developers have also been relieved to hear that the LibDems are likely to be overruled in their attempt to reinstate Vat on new build, a policy of the previous government that often made it cheaper to put up huge brick barns rather than refurbish perfectly good buildings.

Tesco Town, however, faces another danger: the TorLibs are toying with bringing back the so-called needs test that requires retailers to prove there is a need for a new shop. And because John Lewis and many other big names have signed up to Westfield, the mighty shopping centre emerging a few km away at Stratford, that would be difficult.

And don’t forget about the mini Tescos that keep appearing around the borough.

* A No Clapton Tesco Campaign aginst a proposed Tesco Express at 144-146 Lower Clapton Road plans a protest tomorrow Sunday at 5pm. Well, possibly: the protester’s website  does not specifically say 23 May 2010.

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3 thoughts on “Tesco towers to take a tumble

  1. As the writer of the Tesco story, I must have failed in my attempt to be objective, so I’ll clarify. I’m saying that the Tories and LibDems both had policies that seem to dovetail. Now that these parties have formed a coalition they may put the policies into effect. Developers have been quick to lobby against the policies causing the Housing Minister to boost the incentive for councils that seek big schemes. Since I wrote this, the builders have increased the pressure on the housing minister. Labour must be chuckling: the register of political donations says that Tesco has in the past given to that party; I don’t think Labour will be returning the money.

  2. He’s not said anything of the sort. Read the article properly rather than just scanning one line out of it.

  3. You cant blame Tories and Libs for this!??!!?!
    This has been planned for ages. They have had a website up for well over a year.

    http://aurorahackney.co.uk/

    This is supported by Jules Pipe and he is a LABOUR Mayor in a LABOUR borough. Blaming the Tories after one week in power your having a laugh

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