Degeneration not regeneration

PUBLISHED: 14:30 22 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:03 10 June 2010

In his comments about the proposed multi-storey car park for the London Inn (Journal, November 13), Cllr Ray Franklin appears to have let the cat out of the bag when it comes to East Devon District Council's expectations of the impact of the proposed Asda

In his comments about the proposed multi-storey car park for the London Inn (Journal, November 13), Cllr Ray Franklin appears to have let the cat out of the bag when it comes to East Devon District Council's expectations of the impact of the proposed Asda upon the town centre.Cllr Franklin said: "It would enable people to shop in the supermarket and in the specialty shops in the town centre." So, it seems even EDDC expects the non-speciality shops to go bust if Asda comes.EDDC and Asda can be expected to use studies, including one for Asda in Spennymoor, as evidence of what is called 'linked trip theory'. This theory suggests a superstore draws people in and they then go on and undertake additional shopping in the town centre - so that should be good for a town. The Spennymoor study does indeed suggest this, but, crucially, it did not determine the reason for the small number of linked trips. Commonsense tells us it is likely to be to visit those places in different businesses to (why pay more?) Asda, such as banks, post offices, doctors' surgeries and not retailers like W H Smith, Woolworth etc.The study did show that considerably more people went to Asda from the town rather than the other way around. We can at least be confident what they went to Asda for. Now ask yourselves, and EDDC, what sort of place will the town centre become when our non-speciality shops close? A town centre full of more empty shops looking like Gudgeons? More charity shops, more fast food outlets? This is degeneration not regeneration.Would not the town's increased retail needs be adequately met by a new small food supermarket on London Inn or by the Marine Way roundabout, together with the Lidl at the top of Salterton Road to compete with nearby Tesco (enlarged or otherwise)? The estuary side could be tidied up, landscaped and made home to an improved transport interchange - with perhaps a few specialist shops serving those who, in their many different ways, come to enjoy our waterside. Asda will not be giving new sports facilities to us - we will have to pay for them one way or another. Do we, or the country, have the money to waste in knocking down adequate sports facilities just to rebuild them a short distance away?Given what has now been said, there is a further important issue that we should be concerned about. EDDC are the part owners of the proposed Asda site, and they are the local planning authority. Given the expression of views such as those emanating from Cllr Franklin, how can they possibly claim to be capable of judging any future planning application objectively? Tim Todd,Kastri, Coleridge Close,Exmouth.

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