Barnet Council refuses Tesco Express
Friday, January 20, 2006, 12:02 PM
The march of multiple giant Tesco into the convenience sector has been halted. In a landmark case, Barnet Council refused permission for the chain to open a new Express convenience store on the grounds that it would damage nearby local stores.

The application was made to open a store in Ballards Lane, Barnet, on the premises of a former discount carpet retailer.

Barnet councilor Melvin Cohen said: "We refused Tesco's application as we are committed to safeguarding the future of our town centres. To have allowed this application to proceed would have set a precedent to other food retailers and could have encouraged the spread of clone towns, which we do not want to see in barnet."

It is thought to be one of the first times that official planning guidance aimed at protecting town centres has been used to block a small convenience store rather than a supermarket.

There was significant local resistance to the application, including petitions. The council said there were 43 objectors, two supporters and that it received a 371 page petition against the plans.

Jivan Dhokia, of Ballard's Lane based A to Z Grocers, said: "We were against the opening of the store, there really was no need. There is already a big 24-hour Tesco along the road. They're just killing small retailers' trade."

Campaigners say it represents a vital shift in attitudes within council planning departments.

Robin Webster of Friends of the Earth said: "Independent stores are closing at the rate of 2,000 a year and that is causing concern in communities. At last local authorities are picking up on that."

A Tesco spokeswoman said: "We believe local people would have benefited from a better range of fresh food and lower prices."

She said a decision had not been made about any appeal.