Crumbs! 100 turn up for Biscuit Factory meeting


‘The Biscuit Factory’- 9/9a Staplehurst Road, Hither Green.

Issue:  Application for change of use from A3 use (restaurant)  to A1 (retail),  allowing access for a Tesco/ Sainsburys type metro store.

It was standing room only at last night’s public meeting with Lewisham Planning Department.  Almost 100% of attendees were there to object to the change of planning use  and the establishment of a  single, large retail unit.

Between FUSS and the Patel Family (who run the Cost Cutter Store), word of the meeting spread quickly and over 100  people squeezed into the front Biscuit Factory unit, spilling out onto the pavement.

The Unit itself is much larger than it first appears as it runs deep into the Cinnamon Quarter development.

Cinnamon Quarter residents were at the forefront of the objectors – double parking by commuters is already a problem and worry that this will only increase with a Tesco on the doorstep.

Traffic, parking bins, noise, access, pedestrian footfall and Tesco’s suitability for the area were all discussed at length.

 

‘ Tesco or bust perhaps? At the meeting it transpired that over the year the unit has notionally been up for offer,  several bids have been turned down because of unfeasibly high rent and several attendees mentioned that the Agents have been ‘unhelpful’ with business enquiries.

The planning adviser retained by CostCutter revealed that their own bid  to relocate to the Biscuit Factory unit was rejected by the then landlord MacDonald Egan back in November 2013.

Sauce for the Goose?  In addition, Cost Cutter’s adviser informed the meeting that Lewisham Planning refused them planning permission at their current premises (2-6 Staplehurst Road) after they applied to create an open plan 2500 sq ft retail/storage unit.  Refusal was partially based on concerns about disturbance to the street by having such a large unit.

So… it should be interesting to see if this concern about street disturbance applies to the other side of the street too!

 

The mood of the meeting. It was vociferous with residents from both sides of Hither Green. The lasting opinion in the room was there was distinct lack of transparency and that the Bellway  and the holding company perhaps  initially applied for A3 Use ( a mix of restaurant and offices)  with the intention of changing it to retail use once the Cinnamon Quarter was built and sold out.

 

Support or Object Change of Use. 

If you wish to give  support or object to the scheme then it must be put it in writing.  Emails to be sent to  planning@lewisham.gov.uk for the attention of Planning Officer Helen Milner.

Lewisham have their own useful Guide for writing letters of support/ objections.

The deadline for letters of support or objection is  22nd September-  Ms Milner revealed 36 written objections have already received so far, with 6 letters in support of the application.

The Patels from CostCutter reported they have received over 700 petition signatures- 350 online and 350 in store. NOTE:  To the Planning Committee this all counts as ONE singular objection.

The change of use to the Biscuit Factory unit WILL go in front of Lewisham’s full Planning Committees for their consideration.

 


No To Big Retail

CostCutters have set up:  Say No To Big Retail in Hither Green

Email: nobigretail@gmail.com

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9 Comments

  1. Darren
    September 14, 2014
    Reply

    I strongly support Tesco moving in.

    Costcutter is a very poor shop, serving bad quality products and its so often closed – all day Sunday and bank holidays it is shut! And after 8pm

    Doesnt this annoy people? Along with the cash machine that charges you to take money out!

    Tesco will make the high street more attractive than the shabby Costcutter and certainly improve the feel of the area, raising house prices and helping to encourage regeneration of the hight street.

    My suggestion would be that the area above the shop should become A3 – a restaurant above Tesco would have nice views and add to the high street, far more than extra flats.

    Unfortunately i think objectors generally feel more strongly and are better organised – in this case, surprise surprise, by the family running cost cutter. But i strongly suspect that if an anonymous survey was carried out, Tesco would receive more support than objections.

    • Hi Darren,

      Thanks for commenting. Supporting Tesco doesn’t appear to be a majority opinion locally, however you certainly aren’t alone in hoping a Metro type store DOES take on the Biscuit Factory unit. On social media there are other supporters too. To make your views count- Id encourage you to write to Lewisham Planning.

      That said, as a group, the HGCA does advocate buying local and supporting businesses based in our community.
      In addition, at the Biscuit Factory meeting it was clear that some residents of the Cinnamon Quarter felt having a Tesco so close would adversely affect their lives. More than one person mentioned they had been sold property on a premise which has now changed.

      With regard to Staplehurst Road CostCutters, it has served Hither Green for 20 years and so have arguably earned the right to be miffed at a Supermarket moving into the street!
      They can better address your concerns about their opening hours, but I do believe they have plans for a big re-vamp so perhaps come of your other concerns will be addressed.

    • September 16, 2014
      Reply

      Dear Darren,

      I write on behalf of my parents, Mr and Mrs Patel, who run and own the Costcutter to which you refer. Sorry for the lengthy reply but we take any feedback we receive seriously.

      First, it’s important to know that we have served the community through our shops for almost 30 years and are amongst the oldest serving shop-owners and residents on the street. Hither Green has been good to us and we feel that we’ve been good for it. We want to protect it, not just for us, but for its residents (of whom we are one) and other local, independent businesses.

      Second, I’ve addressed your points in turn below:

      – Quality. We source the majority of our products from Costcutter who are a nationwide ‘buying group’ (crucially, enables us to remain independent). Our range of products is similar to most supermarket ‘mini stores’. We are constantly striving to serve good products; please come in and tell us what you’d like to see or are not happy with. There is always room for improvement; I’ll be the first to admit that.

      – Hours. For the past 15 years we have been open from 6.30am – 8pm on weekdays, 7am – 7.30pm on Saturday and 7.30am – 2pm (half-day) on Sunday. We will of course open longer hours if the trade is there; often it simply isn’t (we’ve tried 8.30pm weekday closes and Bank Holidays; both unsuccessfully). We hope to add new services such as the Post Office which, if granted, should certainly make it more feasible to open longer hours. In fact this petition – if you sign it – will help us in our application to better serve you http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Costcutterpostoffice

      – Cash machine. This is a third party service and does not belong to us. We do no set or influence the fee either. Instead we’ve offered CASHBACK on any purchase over £5 for over two years. Very few local stores do this and it’s often a (positive) surprise to our customers. If we are successful in our Post Office application then we should be in a strong petition to swap the fee-paying machine for a free one through the PO. Hooray!

      – High street. It seems that many do not agree that a large store – such as Tesco – would positively impact the street. It would certainly adversely affect us, Quick Shopping (further down the road), other local independents and quite possibly the rest of the street too. I think there is a greater risk and concern that many stores cease to operate and become empty as a result. If so, this would affect the property prices for ALL of us. An excellent case-in-point is Hither Green Lane; the independents there have struggled a lot since Tesco opened up in the Meridian South estate and that parade of shops has certainly not improved since hundreds of new homes have opened (because custom has gone straight to Tesco!).

      As for your last point – agree. We are generally better organized and we are (personally) leading the charge on this objection but that’s because the local community share very similar sentiments to us. The 700+ signatures in a petition supporting this objection is a case in point and without that we would not be making as much noise as we do.

      Finally, and I really would like to engage you on this point. Please let us know (either in person or via this forum/email (nobigretail@gmail.com)) what you would like to see improved with our store. I would rather we satisfied you and the community then give up and let a big retailer muscle in.

      Very best – Vinit

  2. […] about the planning application (it was meet the teacher evening for Year 3) but the excellent OurHitherGreen website reported that 100 people turned up for the meeting and most were opposed.  Interestingly […]

  3. Siona
    September 15, 2014
    Reply

    Hi,
    You reference Cinnamon Quarter in the article but as a resident of Old Biscuit Factory I’ve not heard this name referenced before?

    Personally I would absolutely love the opportunity for some fresher groceries locally as it’s not easy to get good quality veg around Staplehurst road. However I do not agree with the size of the unit proposed for the development and the consequential impact this would have and think the shops currently in place have the opportunity to make their ranges slightly better on the grocery front. I am a regular shopper at the costcutter and think its great the guys are so keen to develop, especially with the newest potential opportunity for post office.

    I’m one of the 36 that have already outlined my objections based on the size/type of unit, not brand name. I do urge anyone to make their opinion clear.

  4. Vinit Patel
    September 16, 2014
    Reply

    Darren,

    One other thing by way of follow up, one of the ironies of this new application is that a mere 8 months ago we applied to repurpose our 1,000 sq ft store into a 2,000 sq ft store (so as to make use of the space at the back). We received no local or residential objection whatsoever. But Lewisham Council said that it was ‘too big’ and not appropriate for the area. Our proposal was 2/3rd of the size of the existing Biscuit Works plan and we were prepared to fund the project ourselves to vastly improve our service to the community.

    So when this perspired at the consultation meeting, many residents were rightly disenchanted with the Council, as we have been. And we all feel that it’s simply unfair.

    Thanks – Vinit

  5. Note from FUSS:
    There is an extension to the consultation period; letters of objection or support can still be sent in until the end of September.

    Planning Officer Helen Milner who took the meeting at the Biscuit Factory on the 10th September has left her post. Apparently the Councillors were aware of this before the meeting.

    So do send emails to : planning@lewisham.gov.uk and not to her directly.

  6. […] in September 2014,100 people turned up to an onsite Planning Meeting with Planning Officers and the mood was largely against the Change of Use which would clear the […]

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