St James Street is my local high street where I do most of my shopping and socialising. I am restricted by agoraphobia from going further afield or any where not near a bus stop.
I object to planning application BH2010/03968 on the following grounds:
1. I am not fully conversant with the Council’s planning policies, but I am aware that the proposed supermarket is 6 or 7 shops away from an existing medium sized Morrisons. I think less than 100 metres. If there is a policy relating to the proximity of shops selling the same or very similar products, I wish to be informed or pointed towards that information. I believe it is the Council’s policy to wish to increase the vitality and viability of shopping areas, and to allow such a similar outlet, in decreasing diversity, will make the area less attractive to shoppers, not more, thus having the effect of reducing vitality and viability, not increasing it. I would, by rhetorical enquiry, submit this question “Who is qualified to decide what kind of market saturation will damage the viability of a shopping area?”. I believe there is no single person or public officer, no small group that can legitimately make such a determination. I believe only the general public who use the area can do so. Before this application is allowed I would wish to see convincing and independent documentary evidence that a 4th supermarket in such close proximity to 3 others and particularly to the nearest will increase vitality and viability, or if, in fact, it will cause a ‘ghost town’ effect in the medium to long term.
2. I share the strong feelings that another national chain supermarket is not suitable for the area, particularly as this proposed development, and it will be a development, not just a shop, will have an ATM, national branding, large sized and no doubt repeated & illuminated signage, large windows with posters advertising those products which are cheaper than the nearby competitors, quite possibly becoming more aggressive and strident as time goes by & competition heats up – all of which is directly opposite the southernmost part of a highly prized and important local landmark. The Brighton Pavilion. So important it is the Brand of Brighton and Hove City Council and protected by law as such. To protect the brand symbol and not the magnificent and unique building that gives it that brand should be an offence in and of itself. It would mar one of the buildings that attracts so many visitors to the City. Furthermore, I still marvel at the magic of the Royal Pavilion as I pass it at night, this warm, orangey glowing building, flattered and emphasised by artful lighting. I am quite certain that a supermarket that will be open until 10 pm most likely will alter the balance of light that gives the Pavilion much of its magic at night. The previous oriental grocers, Taj, was painted black, so it disappears very easily, did not have illuminated windows or fascia, was tasteful and understated.
3. The appearance, unlike Taj as described above, and the size of windows, the sheer amount of glazing, is totally out of character with the area and its predominant styles of architecture. Although the styles are eclectic, they are in harmony with the quirkiness of the area, and none of them sport such a large area of glass which will dominate the aesthetic of this corner.
4. The same argument as in 4 applies to the external alterations. An ATM, very harsh to the eye opposite the Grade 1 listed building and even more so at night. The windows will be significantly more prominent by theme and design as well as illumination and surface area. All of these alterations must impact negatively on the priceless aesthetic appeal created by the Pavilion and its surroundings, including the green spaces.
5. There may be an increase in traffic. Where will they park? Where will the huge delivery vehicles stop? What effect will all this have on traffic flow? How many people will casually disregard parking restrictions to ‘drop off’ or ‘pick up’? How many an hour? What consequences will that have to the traffic flow combined with one of the busiest bus lanes in the City?
6. The signage on a national supermarket as mentioned above can only be too large and unsightly for thus very special area of Brighton. For brevity, please accept the arguments above for signage objections as well.
7. The works are not in keeping with the listed building across the road. Please accept the objections above in relation to the section on listed buildings. Although I assume the building itself is not listed, would a supermarket be allowed opposite Buckingham Palace? This is no different, just because it does not belong to the Royal Family. It deserves as much respect as a piece of history.
There are many general points which are further objections to this planned development, for although the use is not being changed, being an A1 outlet already, such a narrow interpretation is inappropriate in an area of such historical, archaeological and cultural significance. The people who care about the City of Brighton and Hove mainly detest the idea. This is too large a step to be decided with such little public consultation. I understand that these sentences do not tick the relevant boxes as far as the strict letter of the law is concerned, but I beseech the planning authority to think about how this might look to the future when, as we all hope, the promised Localism and Big Society initiatives will give such consultation rights back to the people by law and statute. Once this development has been allowed we might as well turn the Royal Pavilion into a Gala Bingo.
I will not bore you by repeating Cllr. May Mears’ statements which others have produced, but we appreciate her statements about this absurd market-saturation competition being indulged in by the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets. You can be certain the law will be changed because it is the will of the British people, and you know it. Please do not take on the responsibility for allowing one of these cynical exploiters of the current law to slip under the fence at the final hour. It will be your (collectively) largest planning error of all time.
Please acknowledge receipt of my objection and keep me informed on developments, including rejections, re-submissions or alterations to the plans, and the final outcome when known.