Sherborne is great without you

PETITION STATEMENT

Our petition CLOSED on 4th April 2013 but you can read all about it  HERE

STOP PRESS: Online + town paper petition exceeds 10,000 target and closes at 11,324!

The Story of a little Dorset town v. Tesco PLC
A statement by Tesco in December 2012 declared its plans to open a new store in Sherborne on the 6 acre site of The Sherborne Hotel – this stirred a mini army of supporters into action, with a social media campaign, petition and website all launched within 48 hours of the news. We are particularly pleased to have attracted the support of high street champion MARY PORTAS too!
We cannot overestimate the impact Tesco (or any other supermarket) would have on our independent shops, markets and other high street stores and services. In other words, to the very fabric of the town centre and our way of life.
The key issues are:

  • Geographical importance : Sherborne is a gateway town – the proposed Tesco site is at the entrance to an historic market town, and indeed to Dorset, and ANY development there needs careful consideration. Tesco was granted a (non-publicised) restrictive clause on the land registry deeds of this site on 15th August 2012; its aim to prevent other more suitable developments access to the site.
  • Tourism: To accommodate Tesco the town will lose a hotel and yet Tesco claims it will increase tourism by opening there – the argument just doesn’t stack up. We are a town with an Abbey built in the year 705; we have castles and listed buildings galore. We have an enviable arts culture. We attract tourists because of the way we look, what we offer, the experience we create and the welcome we give – not because of our supermarkets. Tourism accounts to 30% of our town’s economy and we still need a hotel on that site.
  • Economy: Sherborne’s economy depends on a thriving high street, with its supporting outlying retailers and service providers. The complex trading model of Tesco (in-store and online) would affect every retail and service offering in town and be a threat to many businesses on which the character and economy of the town is built.
  • Community: We LOVE our town. The town centre is the hub of community activity. We stage great events and festivals. We have a market town reputation going back for hundreds of years, with fabulous independent shops and markets promoting the pleasure of ‘real’ shopping that also supports our local farmers and small producers. We do not believe superstores are the place to build communities.

This is not a debate about people’s shopping preferences – the arguments are much more complex than that. The town is not averse to change or moving with the times either – we have already accommodated many high street brands into our town centre, including two major supermarkets, but it is now time to take a stand on further retail over-development.

On such a large site Tesco’s potential* offering could include homeware & gifts, clothes, electrical & DIY, sport & leisure, toys, children’s & baby products, health & pharmacy services, beauty & fragrances, entertainment & books, newspapers & magazines, stationery & office products, financial, banking & insurance services, dry cleaning, opticians, pets, gardening & floristry as well as food and drink, in-store bakery, greengrocery, fish counter, butchery, deli, wine & spirits, coffee shop and restaurant. Everything we already have in Sherborne in fact!

One of the factors in seeking planning permission for building at Barton Farm in Sherborne was that it would bring extra business into the town centre – it would be ironic if Tesco takes all that new business and more from the town.

Other than a thriving high street, Sherborne already has two major supermarkets and numerous smaller ones which can more than cope with our population of around 10,000. Those who want to shop in larger chain stores and supermarkets, and we respect that, need only pop into Yeovil for much more choice whenever they want. Alternatively Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsburys already offer an excellent delivery service to Sherborne.

People say taking on Tesco is a waste of time – we believe they underestimate the strength of the community in Sherborne and further afield.

*These are the retail categories Tesco represents. Some categories will be introduced in its initial plans, some categories will compete online and others may be introduced as part of expansion once Tesco’s planning application is approved and the initial store is built. Look at Tesco’s Yeovil store for direct comparison – it started as a single level general food and homeware store and now trades from two floors with a multi-storey carpark! 

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