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Fighting off the mega-stores
There's a battle royal going on these days in the normally peaceful Surrey village of Ashtead. On one side is Tesco, which is seeking permission to build a large store in Ashtead's main street. On the other side are a growing number of local objectors, banded together in SAVE, Save Ashtead's Village Environment.
Tesco's first application, made in late 2008 for a 12,000 square foot store, was unanimously turned down by councillors. Tesco's revised proposal last November has also been rejected, a second victory for the SAVE campaigners who have distributed leaflets to local shops, organised a petition and launched a lively website. But the battle is not yet won: in February this year, Tesco announced it was planning to launch a formal appeal against the planning refusal.
The members of SAVE in Ashtead are following a now-familiar path. In Linlithgow, Galashiels, Hayle, Tavistock, Southport, Leek, Newport Pagnell and a host of other towns in Britain local people have launched campaigns to fight against supermarket developments. Their efforts are recorded by Tescopoly , a website launched by a consortium of voluntary organisations which cheekily uses Tesco's own corporate colours to put forward a very different message from that of the retailer.
Advice on the legal planning process is available for would-be campaigners against supermarkets both on the Tescopoly website and in a detailed briefing paper (written in 2005) from Friends of the Earth, entitled How to Oppose a Supermarket Planning Application. A short guide based on the experiences of campaigners in west London is also available online.
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