Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A big day for Tesco, a terrible day for Coalville

Yesterday was a big day for Tesco in North West Leicestershire.

Say goodbye to 'artists impressions' and goodbye to Tesco Coalville

In Ashby Tesco held the formal opening of their 'Tesco Extra' extension, an effective doubling of the size of the store which will bring wider product offers for customers and more jobs for local people. I wish the new store the very best of success.

Over in Coalville however it was a very different story.

Tesco formally confirmed that they will not be coming to town, something we all expected but a great disappointment just the same.

I know that many local residents never wanted Tesco in the first place. The vast majority of people with whom I speak tell me very clearly that they preferred the rival ASDA planning application.

But the fact is that in granting Tesco planning permission the district council were saying 'yes' to a number of significant benefits.

Tesco promised Coalville not only their store but also a range of secondary units which would have been attractive to other larger national multiple retailers. Let's not forget that Tesco also offered the prospect of new, town centre homes - something I believe would have been a great benefit to Coalville.

Now all of those promises have gone and all we are left with is a semi-derelict bank of land on Hotel Street which I have no doubt that without immediate intervention by the authority will be allowed by Tesco to deteriorate even further.

North West Leicestershire District Council must work with Tesco to ensure their Hotel Street properties are developed and brought back into use as a matter of urgency. And if working with Tesco's doesn't work we should not be afraid to take enforcement action to make it so.

Regeneration of Coalville is my top priority and our district council has lessons to be learned out of this mess.

First and foremost, I believe, in our search for an anchor store in town we granted Tesco (and let us not forget the precinct owners, Threadneedle) planning permission and then left them alone to get on with it. That was a mistake.

Granting planning permission should only have been a first step with Tesco (and Threadneedle) as a district council we should have skills in place to nurse those developers through to completion of their builds. To help overcome obstacles and to remind them that there are real benefits in coming to Coalville.

Our Council must make economic regeneration more of a priority. We must get into place those skills necessary to assist developers in seeing major projects through to completion.

It's not just about saying there are real benefits however, it's also about proving it. Our Council must work more with local retailers and shoppers to plan what Coalville needs for the future.

That is why Labour will be seeking to make better links with local businesses over the coming weeks and months. That is why I am seeking to hold a meeting with Coalville retailers as a matter of urgency to see what a Labour Council could do for them. 

Bringing regeneration to Coalville is not an easy task but let us be honest the Conservative administration at Whitwick Road have had six years now to make inroads but we have only seen our town go backwards.

We must dare to think out of the box to work for the regeneration of Coalville. We must think about not only attracting national multiples, anchors and independents but we must question what can a changing Coalville actually support.

We must address our leisure and night time economy to get people coming in to town and not least we must make it attractive for local (and not so local) people to want to spend time here.

As we have seen the Tesco fiasco unravel we have come to realise that the Tories cannot be trusted to prioritise regeneration of Coalville high enough up the agenda.

Labour will work with the current administration in seeking regeneration but where they are not going far enough we will pressure them and go out searching for investment in our town.

The very last thing I want is for regeneration of Coalville to be an election issue in two years time, it's too important to wait that long. I fervently hope our Council will have taken signficiant steps to address Coalville's problems.

I fear however that left to Tory devices we will still be floundering and in an even worse position.


  1. We all know that the regeneration of Coalville needs to be kick started. What we need is houses in town on brownfield sites so people can walk to the shops and pubs etc. We need to seed some key buildings to act as anchors as per the Princes Trust. Also incentives to retailers. We could do this by forgoing rates on shops and houses for a limited period to get things started. There are a lot of retailers who can't afford Ashby who might move to Coalville with an incentive. This wouldn't cost the council anything more because they are not getting rates on the empty building anyway. How about Tesco leasing high street shops at peppercorn rates while they decide their future? The council could gain a lot from starting with the pick and shovel which is a symbol of coalvilles failure and would be seen as a symbol of regeneration and give people faith that something is happening. Currently the council are a laughing stock every time they mention regeneration with both the public and developers. The last thing we want now is more consultants, as proposed but real action!

    1. I agree with anonymous. These comments are every similar to comments I have received from a person in Ashby.

      However - I have been told that the owners of business properties HAVE to continue to pay all or part of the 'business rate'. If NWLDC was to allow non payment of business rates on certain properties - then the cost of this would need to be meet from Council Tax - paid by all.

      Pick and Shovel - agreed but watch this space!

  2. You speak a great deal of sense.

    One of the main difficulties is that the Council owns very few properties in town and so does not have discretion about rent levels. Similarly because business rates are nationally pooled (and the owners of empty properties have to pay full business rates) there isn't a great deal of room for movement here but I am sure that there could be alternative ways of providing incentives, for example helping with costly trade waste removal.

    You are absolutely correct that the last thing we need right now is more consultants. What we do need is an in-house skillset that assists with regeneration - this is something that Labour is very much pressing for.

    Finally, and not least, one area we are hoping to see movement on very shortly is the Pick and Shovel pub. I very pleased to say there are advanced plans to bring this property back into use in the coming months, so watch this space.

  3. “Tesco promised Coalville not only their store but also a range of secondary units”
    So let’s be clear about this, what Tesco offered was an inducement to look favorably on their own submitted planning application, you could call it an outright bribe that the North West Leicestershire District Council readily accepted on the residents behalf, even though many objected.
    The council and councilors would do well to reflect on this dubious practice and give the long suffering honest taxpaying public a fair say.

    1. The secondary units were a part of the Tesco application and if built efffectively they would have been a landlord (as I understand it).

      You are, of course, absolutely right that Councillors should listen to the local electorate in making decisions.

  4. I can't believe that Richard Blunt has used the economy as one of the reasons that Tescon will not be coming to Coalville it hasn't stopped them doubling the size of the Asby store. I also hope that he won't be taken in by the offer of a smaller convenience store....this fiasco has cost Coalville the 400 jobs that Asda would have brought to the town the ciuncil should hang it's head in shame and heads should roll.

  5. Bloody disgusting, shopping centre redevelopment has gone quiet with planning agreed for 800 houses! We need things moving quick as morrisons won't cope with that and Coalville needs something to pull people in!

    1. You are absolutely right, regeneration of Coalville must go hand in hand with the new homes that are built in and around the town.

      Increasing the number of people as well as a gradually changing demographic will mean that the town becomes more attractive to service businesses.

      We must make sure that the council is ready to work with them for the good of local residents.

  6. I despair when I go through places such as Swadlingcote with it's ski slope, cinema, Morrisons, Sainsburys I could go on but it depresses me...why can't Coalville compete ? or is Coalville just a small town with small minded administration who are more interested in party politics than the good of the town.

  7. I think one has to question the caliber of the people running the North West Leicestershire District Council, both elected and unelected.
    This fiasco was brought about by actual people that are employed and paid by each and every tax payer within the North West area. I think this time, it’s fair to ask who actually was responsible for the mess.
    Would the fool in question please stand up and be counted

  8. Glad to see that the Pick And Shovel is finally going to be used for something.....but I can't really get excited about a local radio station hardly on par with Asda which would have been putting money into the bank accounts of 400 workers if only the concil had listened but of course they know better than the man in the street.

  9. Was the Tesco application more or a ruse to keep ASDA out?

    1. It would be daft to suggest that the Tesco application did not have logistical strengths over the Asda one but, yes, you could well be right about it being a ruse.

  10. Well here we sit with baited breath awaiting Richard Blun't announcement....he did say he would announce within three weeks details of a new supermaket for Coalville .

  11. The council should have refused planning at Tesco Ashby till the did something with Coalville, it only takes a bit of common sense or money talks back hand. Don't think you will change them Leon corrupt little people up there.

    1. I wish they could have Davina!

      Sadly when a planning application comes in you have to treat it on its merits. If the council didn't process the Ashby application then it's likely Tesco would appeal due to non-determination.

      In that event that would in all likelihood win and the council would have to pay their costs.

      The phrase between a rock and a hard place springs to mind!

  12. ask the people what they want Asda would have been perfect would have brought people into town, Asda is a better chain than Tesco what do you think? I know I have shopped in both. Tesco were in Coalville precinct years ago and they went and let them down then, so sad. Try with Asda to get that great plot of land into something good right near bus stops and everything. Tesco was a ruse to keep Asda out while the council let them build that horrible extention in Ashby, should have refused planning are planning department stupid or what.

    1. I wasn't on the Council when the applications went through so I don't know the full details of how the application was processed.

      I've used both shops and don't really have a preference for either, you won't be surprised to know I prefer to shop at the Co-op!

      I think the honest truth is that it would be great to have a big new supermarket in town but the application has to be right. I have never been convinced that the Asda application would have been right for the town - there were definite drawbacks.

      It would be great to see the Grieve site back in use though, although my preference would be for town centre housing.

  13. well that was my last comment the others were not published so my vote didn't count nothings going to change, will not bother when the big one comes up. why bother.

    1. Hi Davina,

      there is a setting on the website (to prevent spam) that comments have to be moderated when the post is over 2 weeks old.

      I always make sure all comments are read and published though - they should all be online now!



  14. So what is stoping the Council approaching ASDA again?

  15. In reality Coalville has much to offer. 10 minutes from the M1, 20 from the M42, 15 minutes from EMA, 40 minutes from Birmingham airport. In the National Forest and beautiful contryside. Wide range of housing and fairly low prices. 90 minutes from St Pancras! HS2 will lengthen our journey time strangely. Fantastic historical associations.

    But it's a secret. When I tell people about this they are astonished. When they come here, they are astonished.

    Promotion in London as a location for family or businesses should be a fairly inexpensive tactic. Regeneration is essential of course but not more cheap shops. How about offering incentives to small businesses to take over the empty shop units as long as they base their web shops - if they have them - there too?

  16. So here we are 14 months on and what has changed in the town. NOTHING! Still looks a poor derelict town with no incentives for local people to actually shop here. Pick and Shovel is still an eye sore...and being in the centre of town is far from an ideal advertisement. When will the council actually do something to assist in the improvement of the town. We are a stagnant town being left in the past. I really am unsure if the council actually cares for the town or are just happy to let things go as they are and its a matter of I'm all right jack...