Uckfield Town Council is formally objecting to a plan by Timpson to site a shoe repair, key cutting and dry cleaning kiosk at Tesco.
Plans committee members unanimously voted last night (May 28) to oppose the scheme which has been met by a wave of protests from townspeople.
They told the supermarket giant that pressing ahead with the planning application would be a PR disaster.
They also agreed they would write to Sir John Timpson, boss of Timpson – which would run the kiosk – who chairs a Government-appointed panel looking for ways of invigorating town centres. Some of his views can be read here: Timpson says a locally-driven approach needed to rejuvenate high streets.
Background to the Tesco/Timpson application in Uckfield
Town councillors were told there were now 76 objections registered with the planning authority, Wealden District Council, which will make the decision.
A statement from Uckfield Chamber of Commerce was read to the meeting on behalf of its secretary, Ian Noble.
It said the proposed kiosk was likely to:
- Cause local jobs to be lost;
- Increase traffic congestion;
- Lead to fewer parking spaces; and
- A reduction in High Street footfall
The statement said the chamber would be against any scheme which would have an adverse impact on Uckfield.
Glen Dixon, of Bell Walk Dry Cleaners, emphasised the objection was not a “whinge” about competition.
He said the plan was likely to cause an increase in traffic because he believed people would drive to Tesco to make use of the services in the kiosk.
Trade obtained by Timpson’s would be a dissipation of existing trade and could lead to loss of staff, or even make the affected businesses unviable.
There was potential for a net loss of employment.
Cllr Chris Macve, Trust Independent, Uckfield East, said the plan was likely to lead to traffic backing up along the access road to Tesco and into Bell Farm Road and Bell Lane.
The Tesco car park was well occupied, he said, and the introduction of another business would make problems worse.
He said it was important for councillors to focus on valid planning grounds when making objections.
Cllr Duncan Bennett, Trust Independent, New Town, said there were two health and safety concerns, connected to the nearby electrical sub station.
There was a risk of people being able to get into the sub station via the roof of the kiosk, he said, plus there were dangers from the electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiation given off by the equipment.
He said this was a danger to health. Brickwork and distance could reduce EMF radiation but the close proximity of the high-voltage equipment to the kiosk with its light method of construction “must give rise to increased concerns” regarding the long-term health of employees.
He said: “There is growing, compelling evidence which shows that long-term exposure to EMF can harm your health in many ways, including making it more likely that you will develop leukaemia and forms of cancer.
“Is this really a suitable location for a retail environment?”
Cllr Bennett referred to the World Health Organisation which said exposure to EMF can cause headaches, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, prickly and burning skin, itches and muscle pain.
Other councillors referred to the location of the kiosk on the Tesco site and the potential dangers and conflicts with pedestrians.
Councillors present at the meeting
Chair: Donna French, Trust Independent, East
Vice-chair: Duncan Bennett, Trust Independent, New Town
Jez Beesley, Trust Independent, Ridgewood
Ben Cox, Labour and Co-operative, New Town
Jackie Love, Trust Independent, North
Chris Macve, Trust Independent, East
Spike Mayhew, Trust Independent, New Town