Category Archives: Press releases

A Very Sad Day for Local Democracy

The opening of the Tesco Express store in Furze Platt is indeed a very sad day for local democracy. The vast majority of local residents, through petitions, surveys, public meetings and letters of objection have made it very clear that they are opposed to the opening of this store.

We hope that our supporters and local people will boycott this store as it is the only way left for us to protest against this unwanted development. We truly hope that our pedestrian and traffic safety concerns are not realised and that Tesco prove to be a good neighbour, something they have failed to demonstrate so far.

The FPAG is currently working on a number of exciting projects, with National and Government organisations, to change the planning laws in order to protect pubs from suffering the same fate as the Golden Harp. The campaign is far from over and we will continue to push for change.

Action groups around the country are coming to us for advice and using our data and legal experience to protect their communities and so our campaign has grown beyond just saving the Golden Harp, local businesses and the Post Office.

We have also set up a Residents’ Committee to monitor the site to ensure that Tesco do not breach any of the conditions imposed on them at the Appeal Hearing in October 2013.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the campaign so far and look forward to working with you, and the ever growing number of like-minded people around the country, in the future.

Mark Newcombe
Chairman FPAG

2014-06-03 Boycott Tesco

Furze Platt Residents to Boycott Tesco

Click here for the full results of the Golden Harp Residents’ Survey (pdf 443kb)

Press Release

The results of the Furze Platt Action Group’s Survey of residents, who will be affected by the Tesco Express which is due to open, shortly, at the Golden Harp Public House site in Furze Platt Road, Maidenhead, have just been released. The overall results were :-

  • 94% of residents are concerned about the increase in traffic and/or risk of accidents when the Tesco Express opens and are concerned about the safety of children walking to and from school.

and

  • 79% said they would boycott the Tesco Express.

Views on what could or should be done were somewhat more mixed:-

  • 57% wanted traffic calming in Courthouse Road, with 22% against and 22% not sure.
  • 67% wanted width restrictions, with 21% against and 12% not sure.
  • 91% wanted loading restrictions and yellow lines around the Golden Harp site to prevent delivery trucks or customers from parking or waiting on the roads.
  • 70% thought there should be free parking permits for residents and their visitors where they lived close to the Golden Harp.

Residents also expressed their views on the potential loss of the Post Office.

  • 95% were concerned about the loss of the Post Office, if the Best One shop closed as a result of the opening of Tesco Express.

and about the use of permitted development rights to convert the pub to a store without a full planning application, meaning factors such as traffic safety could not be taken into full consideration.

  • 94% wanted a change in planning law so that full planning permission should have to be obtained.  

Whilst the views of residents in the immediate area ( Courthouse Road, Furze Platt Road, Linden Avenue, Oaken Grove  varied slightly from the overall results they were not significantly different.

Many of the residents were scathing in their individual comments criticising Tesco for going ahead with this store given the overwhelming opposition against it.

Mark Newcombe, the Chairman of the Furze Platt Action Group, reflecting on the survey, said:

“Thames Valley Police have already expressed their concern about the impact of this store on what is a busy junction. The Furze Platt Action Group will be working with the Royal Borough and looking to the Council to bring forward plans to deal with what will undoubtedly be a chaotic and dangerous situation for local residents and their children.”

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead thanked the FPAG for organising the survey and said the results were very informative.  The council added:

“We are very keen to continue our constructive work with local residents to help deal with a number of their concerns. Several highway improvements and management controls have already been put in place to prevent parking and loading abuses. However, we are always willing to look at further proposals, including the possibility of a residents’ parking permits scheme, although that would require formal consultation on the creation of a residents’ parking zone.”

Regarding residents’ desire for a change in the planning law, the council added:

“We continue to give consideration to how our planning policies can best address residents’ frustrations within national planning regulations.”

Note to editors;
600 questionnaires were delivered in the local area and could be completed by paper or online at http://www.savetheharp.co.uk. 166 returns were received ie 28%, an extraordinary response for such a survey. 76 of those returns were from the immediate area ie Courthouse Road/Furze Platt Road/ Linden Avenue/ Oaken Grove.

Appeal Hearing Decision

PRESS RELEASE – GOLDEN HARP – FURZE PLATT
Date: 8 December 2013
Case Reference. 2199252
The Planning Inspectorate Appeal Decision (hearing held 17 October 2013)

A ‘Golden’ Victory for Furze Platt Action Group

FPAG members warmly welcomed the latest victory in the battle against Tesco turning the Golden Harp into a convenience store.

Although Tesco had appeals allowed on the shop front, plant equipment, bollards and signage, they were refused permission on four of the original planning applications including the all-important hardstanding. This means that they will not be able to enter/exit the car park from Furze Platt Road. Both the Planning Inspector and the Thames Valley Police considered the Tesco traffic management plan to be too dangerous, vague and ill-conceived.

The FPAG Chairman, Mark Newcombe, commented “This is great news. With only the Courthouse Road entrance/exit we do not believe that they can create a safe environment within the site and around the site with an increased mixture of pedestrians, cars and delivery lorries. The store traffic will be dangerous and in conflict with normal heavy traffic, the schoolchildren and parents with pushchairs walking along the pavement.”

Tony Dixon, spokesman for the FPAG, added “We call upon Tesco to give up this irresponsible scheme and talk to us about how we can jointly develop the site in the interests of the Furze Platt residents by creating a community pub which will have support of the majority of the local people.”

A major player in the battle was Councillor Claire Stretton who commissioned the police traffic report and spoke against Tesco’s plans at the Planning Appeal Hearing. The FPAG would like to thank her, Ward Councillor Hari Sharma, the RBWM Officers present and the members of the Thames Valley Police for their support and valuable professional contributions.

Residents will now recall the words of Simon Petar (Tesco’s Corporate and Legal Manager) who said “Safety is our number one priority. If we are unable to deliver safely we will not open the store.”

The FPAG will be sending their BOYCOTT Tesco Petition (with over 1500 signatures) to the powers that be at Tesco asking them, once again, to withdraw on the grounds of safety. We will appeal to their only concern – the bottom line; without the Furze Platt Road entrance and with the formidable local opposition it is unlikely that they can operate a store profitably on the Golden Harp site.

[end of press release]

Full details of the appeal can be accessed from the Planning Portal.
And here’s a direct link to the appeal-decision document.

Press Release – 26th Aug 2013

FURZE PLATT ACTION GROUP (FPAG) – SAVE THE HARP – 26 AUGUST 2013

The Golden Harp, Furze Platt, Maidenhead, used to belong to Enterprise Inns,  a debt-laden Pubco that runs down many of its pubs so that it can claim they are unviable and close them to sell as domestic properties (which requires planning consent for change of use), or as a supermarket which is permitted development under our archaic planning law. This has enabled supermarkets (especially Tesco) to open many a convenience store at the expense of an often much loved local pub.

The Golden Harp in Furze Platt, a Victorian Village conservation area about a mile from Maidenhead town centre, suffered this treatment recently. In December 2012, hoardings appeared round it, and shortly after this it was gutted. Tesco submitted to Maidenhead Development Control Panel six applications for what they termed ‘minor works’, including punching a large hole in the front of the pub to add shop doors, and an ATM on the side of the original 1889 stable block.

The Furze Platt Action Group (FPAG) formed to oppose Tesco’s plans, and these first six applications were refused by the planning authority at a packed Town Hall, in March 2013, mainly on the grounds that they did not improve or enhance the conservation area. A survey showed that 89% of local residents did not want a Tesco, but wanted to retain their community pub instead. A full Council Meeting on 23 April voted 48-1 to recommend to the Development Control Panel that an Article 4 direction be considered, which would require a full planning application for change of use. This was subsequently felt by the Panel to be too late (and potentially costly to taxpayers and individual councillors, who we believe were informed they might be personally liable if a compensation claim resulted).

Tesco appealed against the refusal of the first set of applications, and the date for this hearing is 17 October 2013. They also submitted another set of very similar proposals, which were all again refused. This time one of the councillors had commissioned a traffic report from Thames Valley Police, carried out at the morning rush hour, which showed the dangers the increased traffic would pose to children passing by to three local schools. Formally this could not be considered, as the applications were not related to a change of use which is already permitted. The FPAG have challenged Tesco to put in a full planning application if the development is as safe as they claim, so that the traffic report can be considered, and everyone can then abide by the decision. Tesco have consistently refused to meet FPAG, and only communicate via their corporate affairs manager, who was instructed by senior officials to say only ‘we will go ahead with this store’. Their Chief Executive and Chair refuse to answer correspondence, despite the involvement of Theresa May MP.

The Golden Harp was listed by the Council as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). However, Central Midland Estates (CME), the owners of the freehold, from whom Tesco have leased the Golden Harp, have appealed against the Council’s listing of the Golden Harp as an ACV. The hearing is expected within the next few weeks. It’s a good job FPAG are an energetic group, supported by the local CAMRA branch and others. There’s no sign of weakening under the pressure.  The battles continue.