Wednesday, January 16, 2008

STOP! - Stop Tesco's Oversized Plan

As a resident of Andover I have long known about the proposed Tesco development of what was the now disused RAF Andover site, but only recently found out more detail, sounds hideous......

Tesco plans to build its largest distribution centre in Europe - you might claim this to be good news locally with perceived investment of £120m & lots of jobs. Reality is local contractors won't get the work to build or manage the development. The warehouse is highly automated, so when completed, employment opportunities will be scarce. If as is thought Tesco close two other depots in the South of England and relocate to Andover, a lot of the skilled workers such as management & drivers will migrate with the depot.

The site concerned has outline planning permission for a business park but on a much smaller scale than that being proposed by Tesco. As is usual Test Valley Borough Council Planning claim that a small business park & hotel will be built adjacent to the Tesco development, but in reality who in their right mind would build a a hotel & business park next to a traffic junction that is choked to a standstill with Tesco HGV's? The business park & hotel won't ever happen, they are just a distraction in the plan to make it sound more attractive. (Much the same tactic as when TVBC suggested building homes on Andover Golf Course & they reassured people that they made provision & plans for a Golf Course in the new housing development planned for Picket Piece - sadly TVBC were never going to fund the construction of a new course & were looking for private investment to do it - again, it was never going to happen, but TVBC could state in their plan that they had made provision for another golf course to be available for the displaced membership of Andover Golf Club).

Estimates vary massively between 1,200 (Tesco estimate) & 3,200 (campaigners estimate based on other Tesco depots) vehicle movements in every 24 hour period. There are two direct results of this massive traffic flow, the first is increased levels of road noise from the biggest HGV's on the road, the second is that the A303 will become choked with traffic desperate to overtake convoys of Tesco lorries blocking each other as HGV's do today on roads like the A34. Net result will be businesses moving away from Andover as their productivity declines & costs increase due to more time spent travelling to & from customers.

It looks like a well thought out plan when viewed in the Tesco & developers glossy brochure as seen below, but all the gloss & proposed development mean nothing, the biggest impact will be to every single driver that uses the A303 in increased journey times.

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