Guest post from Andy Hills (Twitter @Hillsy101)
In two surprising moves, Tesco, the new supermarket on the block, has already contributed to residents and the community of Knaphill.
A £500 donation has been organised for the Cabin youth club and the resurfacing of Fosters Lane has been paid for by the supermarket.
This is in stark contrast to both existing supermarkets in the village and to the developers now finishing off the building at 15 High Street. Co-op has been fairly innocuous in it’s business neither positively nor negatively affecting village life, whereas Sainsbury has a fairly long history with bullying the village and getting exactly what it wants.
Could this mean that Tesco, far from being the final nail in the High Street that I expected, is in fact, a positive contributor? Please don’t get me wrong – I would have desperately preferred an independent retailer in the High Street, as I’m sure many existing retailers and residents would have, but in a mere few days Tesco has shown it is willing to support community interests whereas the others have spent years ignoring them.
Perhaps the other supermarkets could learn that supporting the community even in small ways, can help build relations. Some may refer to the new Knaphill village signs – ostensibly paid for by Sainsbury’s – but it took years and years to achieve those after long discussions and dealings. They are nice (thank you Mal, Melanie) but I can’t help feeling Sainsbury’s
Brookwood Knaphill resisted when such a small expenditure would have gone a long way to build goodwill early on.
Of course, this early investment in the community from Tesco may well be it, time will tell, but I’m glad for the time being that Tesco is not being the monster it easily could have been and I genuinely appreciate the gesture from them. I am also exceptionally cautious regarding the deliveries to the store, with chaos already having been caused in the village before the store has even opened. Must write the thank you letter to WBC and Surrey Highways for the genius decisions made in this development…
Tesco opens 11th February.
Setting aside the obvious inappropriateness of the building they are moving into, I have no problem with Tesco moving into the village. To be totally correct though, that should perhaps be moving BACK to the village. What a lot of people seem to forget is that Tesco’s were actually a feature of village life for many years – “happily” living alongside the Co-op (not literally, but in the Anchor Precinct, where the library is now located) and, if you go further back, Fine Fare!
The “death knell” for Knaphill arose when the supermarket industry changed its business model and created a desire for much larger “out of centre” stores – ably assisted by Councils who were more than happy to permit such development. It may be slightly unfair to single out Sainsburys for seizing that opportunity in Knaphill. Tesco may well have thought it was good idea also, if given the opportunity and planners had been as accommodating….
The “need” for smaller supermarkets is now apparent with all main players keen to introduce their “Express”, “Local”, etc. brandings to village centres. I will stand to be corrected but my gut instinct is that this size of store may well be a “plus” for the village centre – even if operated by a national chain. If nothing else, such a store will help me avoid visiting the recently extended (thanks again, Planners!), soul-less and unsightly behemoth that destroyed our High Street in the first place.
Now come my caveats…..
The actual location of the store is, frankly, ridiculous and there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead addressing safety concerns for pedestrians on the pavement crossovers and adjoining Pelican crossing. It will be interesting to see how the management deal with these issues, as well as how they will control the obvious potential for increased anti-social behaviour the opening hours may attract and the impact of deliveries on local residents.
To be fair to Tesco, the potential for these problems is not something they have personally created. The buck firmly stops with Woking Borough Council who have, as we have become accustomed, failed to consider the “true” impacts of a development during the planning process.
Time will tell. But for the time being, I would wish to say to Tesco: “Welcome back to Knaphill……..”.
Let’s hope they will respect their neighbours and the wider village with a little more consideration than other big businesses moving into Knaphill (or it’s neighbouring village!!!!!) have shown.
Or, indeed, the village has been shown by its beloved Planners…….
As a resident directly impacted by the building itself I have complained a lot, and indeed spoke against the original application at the planning committee.
I never really had a problem with the concept of the store, merely that the building is far too large, delivery access is downright dangerous, and the idea of 5 parking spaces no visible from the road a recipe for chaos.
I will use the store myself, and be glad to have an alternative to the Co-op which has been in my 7 years in the village distinctly mediocre.
To be honest I dont even mind the design, although it will doubtless date a lot more quickly that the building it replaced.
On the whole, I see it as being very positive. The co-op has been in decline since Tesco announced their intentions to move to the village. Poorly stocked, and forever a queue, I for one am really pleased Tesco have invested in Knaphill.
Parking is simply not adequate, but the council are to be held responsible for this (a smaller Chobham Tesco has more parking spaces, yet I have been unable to park on more than one occasion). However, I will be walking to this supermarket, so therefore this doesn’t concern me too much.
With the property which formerly housed Viceroy due to exchange contracts soon – I firmly believe the High Street is heading in a better direction.