Further explanation of the Article 4 decision…

We have received a letter from Cllr Derek Wilson (Chairman of Maidenhead Development Control Panel), providing some insight into the Council’s decision to refuse an Article 4, despite 48-1 in favour at the Council meeting on 23rd April.  There appear to be two main reasons behind the decision:

“An Article 4 direction was not an available option as the applicant had already demonstrated clear intent to change the use of the premises. It was therefore too late for the Council to serve an Article 4 direction.”

We dispute this, as although Tesco have “commenced works to prepare the building for a permitted change” (i.e. they have ripped out the interior of the Harp), the change of use has not yet occurred – it’s not trading as a shop; it’s a boarded-up ex-pub.

In addition, Tesco currently has six planning applications pending consideration – these relate to replacing existing grass with hard-standing, installation of a shop-front, signage, a cash machine and so on.  Without these, they will not be able to open a store, so please write to the planning department objecting to these proposals!

“The Panel also considered the risk of a significant compensation claim from Tesco Stores or the freeholder[...] The Panel [...] was not prepared to take the risk of a significant compensation payment.”

Is it right that big business can win against local residents by threatening to claim significant amounts of money in ‘compensation’?  Tesco were aware of the strong local opposition to an Express store at the Golden Harp – shouldn’t they have taken this into consideration before spending money on the site?

We urge you to write to Brandon Lewis, Community Pubs Minister, (brandon.lewis.mp@parliament.uk), and our MP, Theresa May (mayt@parliament.uk), to express your views on this Article 4 decision.