Top food writer backs protest against plans for new Tesco
A LEADING food writer is championing a campaign by residents and shopkeepers in Craiglockhart over plans to build a new Tesco Metro store in the area.
Joanna Blythman, author of Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets, is leading the fight against a plans to convert a former Meggetland petrol station in Colinton Road into new shops.
Originally it was planned to create four small shops on the site but residents have been dismayed that, following interest from the retail giant, the plans now involve room for just one shop, with a 3500-square foot Tesco Metro taking up the rest of the space.
And residents have argued that the development will "kill off" existing shops at the nearby Happy Valley shopping centre.
The amended plans have already been approved by the council, clearing the way for supermarket chain to make a bid for the site. But protesters have already sent a letter of objection to Tesco CEO, Sir Terence Leahy, begging him not to let the company build yet another supermarket in the area.
Residents and shopkeepers are also drawing up a petition against the city turning into "Tescoburgh", which they hope will be signed by hundreds of people in the area. Currently there are two Tesco stores within walking distance of the site - a superstore at Colinton Mains and a Tesco Metro at Holy Corner in Morningside.
Ms Blythman said that the supermarket giant needed to live up to its claim of being a "good neighbour" and scrap its plans for the new Colinton Road store.
She added: "Tesco is often accused of bullying its way into neighbourhoods against the community's wishes and they now have the ideal opportunity to show that they are fulfilling their commitment to act as a 'good neighbour' by withdrawing from the site.
"Good neighbours do not steal business from existing businesses, cause a bottleneck of traffic congestion or settle where they are not wanted or needed."
"This plan has caused real concern amongst local residents and shopkeepers. The store would be devastating for the livelihoods of shopkeepers at the nearby Happy Valley shopping parade."
The plans have also been criticised by Greens Lothians MSPs, who have backed the campaigners in their fight against Tesco. Earlier this week, Robin Harper and Mark Ballard accused the supermarket giant of attempting to "monopolise the retail market in the area".
Mr Harper said: "I'm going to be canvassing local traders to assess opinion on what can and should be done to stop this threat."
A spokesman for Tesco said: "Once we have received their letter, we will give consideration to the points raised and will be happy to see what residents have to say. However, no legal work has yet been completed about our involvement on the site, so we cannot comment any further on whether a new Tesco store will be coming to Colinton Road."
STORE WARS: SHOPS HIT BACK AT SPACE INVADER
THE protest against the Colinton Road Tesco is just the latest in a series of supermarket battles in the Lothians.
Earlier this year, Tesco faced a fight against local residents and shopkeepers in Morningside and Bruntsfield over plans to build a Metro store at Holy Corner.
Last month, a shopkeeper who ran Avi Newsagents on Bruntsfield Place even said that he had been forced to close because of competition from the new store.
Last year, campaigners joined forces against a proposed supermarket in Portobello's High Street and claimed it would "rip the heart out" of the area. They also argued that it would force independent local traders to close. The Scottish Executive eventually ruled against plans for the controversial store.
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