"We have re-iterated our guarantee to the Council to buy this site at the correct market rate and deliver a new, appropriate supermarket at our cost if Tesco is unable or unwilling to do so." Salford Estates
Today, at a stand next to Warren James Jewellers in Salford Precinct, Salford Estates is unveiling an alternative vision for Salford Shopping City that will show how a food superstore could be positioned without killing ever other shop and market stall in sight.
It proposes the closure of the Pendleton Way road with a food store connected directly to the precinct by public squares, together with a new 21st Century market and better quality shops.
As plans stand, the giant 140,000sq ft Tesco, which will be over three times bigger than Morrisons in Eccles, is a massive self contained superstore totally cut off from the precinct by its own car park and the four lane Pendleton Way. This, argues Salford Estates spokesman Gareth Edmunds, will destroy Salford Shopping City…
"It's a question of jobs being lost because shops and traders can't compete with a Tesco of that size" he explains "If people just go to Tesco and stop coming to the whole centre shops will close. The Tesco application is a gun to our heads. If it goes ahead it will have a devastating impact on the centre. The precinct needs a new supermarket – just not one that's going to damage the area forever."
From Day One, when Salford Council first flogged off its land to Tesco (which, we understand, paid for the new St James School and Methodist Church on Langworthy Road), the notion that the new superstore would be `integrated' with the Precinct was written in stone.
In 2008, Bob Osborne, Salford City Council's then deputy director of housing and planning, stated "We're still in talks with Tesco about plans for a superstore which, if integrated into an expanded Salford Shopping City, has the potential to reinvigorate the area as a shopping destination and play a major role in the large scale regeneration of Pendleton."
Osborne added that "local people will shortly get the opportunity to give their views on initial plans for the store and the proposals to extend the shopping centre".
The only public records of this happening show that the community was totally against anything that would have an adverse affect on the precinct. As long ago as 2005 when Tesco gave a presentation on its plans to Pendleton Community Forum, minutes show that "It was clear from the questions asked where the anxiety of local residents lie: the potential increase in traffic and vehicular activity, impacts upon Salford Shopping City and the size of any proposed Tesco store".
More minutes from the Pendleton Community Forum show "concerns about the impact that Tesco will have on the shops in Salford Shopping City…make sure that Shopping City remains vibrant and unmolested…"
Meanwhile Policy 9 of the Pendleton Planning Guidance states that "provision is made for a 13,000sq m food superstore to the west of the existing shopping centre. Any proposals…must integrate well with the existing centre and provide good pedestrian links within the centre and to the surrounding area."
When the proposals for the Tesco superstore were released, Government advisers CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), slated the plans stating that "the model of development proposed risks seriously undermining the long-term regeneration of Pendleton by failing to adequately consider the site's integration with its context."
Yet Salford Council's planning officers have strangely recommended that the Council approve the plans next Thursday.
Until then, Salford Estates has declared all out war. It's sending leaflets out to every house in the area, girls are walking around the Precinct every day getting people to sign a petition against Tesco, full page ads have been taken out in the local press and a Save Salford website has been created, urging people opposed to Tesco to object to the planning application (see here).
Salford Estates has also launched judicial review proceedings against Salford City Council over the way it sold the land to Tesco, arguing that it wasn't a competitive process with a potential undervaluing of the land. The property company has now stated that it will buy the land allocated to Tesco and build its own supermarket to be `integrated' properly with the Precinct…
"Not only does the application threaten local jobs but we believe this cosy arrangement between Tesco and the Council short changes the people of Salford" says a spokesman "Local people are potentially missing out on millions of pounds for this valuable piece of community land.
"We're committed to promoting an alternative and better vision for the area that benefits everyone" he adds "We have re-iterated our guarantee to the Council to buy this site at the correct market rate and deliver a new, appropriate supermarket at our cost if Tesco is unable or unwilling to do so."
Tesco, of course, refutes virtually everything that Salford Estates is saying.
"The food superstore will provide a complementary role to the existing retail provision, bringing additional footfall to the town centre as a whole, enhancing the image of the centre, promoting developer confidence and encouraging higher end retailers to locate here" states Hannah Roper of DPP in a report to Salford Council on behalf of Tesco.
She points to the creation of around 600 jobs, "a large proportion of which will be safeguarded for local residents" and argues that "the proposal has been designed to fully integrate with the existing development at Salford Shopping City, through the use of direct pedestrian and cycle linkages from the store through the car park to tie in with the surrounding area".
She concludes that the "Council have clearly accepted that a certain size of store is required within Pendleton and that the development of such a store will not be detrimental to wither the rest of Pendleton town centre or other centres within Salford."
None of these points are accepted by Salford Estates, which argues that jobs will be lost at the Precinct if Tesco superstore goes ahead, and that Salford Estates' planned investment in the centre will be "reassessed"…
"There have been a lot of false starts and broken promises in the past but Salford Estates has the financial resources and commitment to improve the Precinct" says Gareth Edmunds "Creating a proper and vibrant new centre just won't be possible if Tesco goes ahead with what it's proposing.
"Businesses will only locate here if it's viable and if people just go to Tesco and stop coming to the whole centre shops will close and good replacements won't be found" he adds "Our vision is for a large supermarket (90,000 sq ft) to be properly integrated with the centre in order to allow the improvements we've talked about to happen. This would create a better Precinct for everyone, not just Tesco…"
Meanwhile, the market traders and shop keepers at the Precinct are furious. And the Salford public?
Click here to find out: STORE WARS – Part 3: What Do Salford People Think?
For STORE WARS - PART 1 click here. The History of Salford Precinct
Graphic by Gareth Lyons