Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Does Kendal need a new supermarket?

Welcome to our blog.

We are local residents opposed to the recent proposals by Sainsbury’s to open up a new 50,000 sq ft supermarket in Kendal. We are concerned that this would result in the closure of some local shops, the overall loss of jobs locally, and the degradation of the town’s character.

We hope you will read our blog and join us in our campaign by signing our petition and sending a letter to the Council (a template will be prepared once the planning application has been submitted).

Kendal already has three large supermarkets serving different parts of the town, together catering for all budgets. We are also lucky to have an excellent fishmonger, greengrocer and several butchers, as well as a very good twice-weekly market.

Sainsbury’s claims that the store will bring 400 new jobs; however, the National Retail Planning Forum carried out a study (financed, ironically, by Tesco and Sainsbury’s, amongst others) on 93 new supermarkets and found that they were collectively responsible for the net loss of 25,685 jobs; that’s 276 per store. This is partially explained by the fact that, according to the New Economics Foundation, only £50,000 needs to be spent in small local shops to create one job, compared with £250,000 in supermarkets. Furthermore, a Friends of the Earth study of local food schemes found that over 50% of turnover was returned to the local economy, compared with around 5% for large supermarket chains. Is it sensible to open another supermarket, at a time of recession when small businesses are already struggling? It goes without saying that the new store will take custom away from existing businesses; we aren’t all going to eat more just because there’s an extra supermarket to shop at.

A government study entitled ‘the Impact of Large Foodstores on Market Towns and District Centres’ (provided in the 'communities.gov' link opposite) concluded that when a supermarket was built on the edge of the centre (which is what’s proposed here), other food shops lose 13%-50% of their trade and the result is “the closure of some town centre food retailers; increases in vacancy levels; and a general decline in the quality of the environment of the centre”.

We believe that we need to invest in regenerating Kendal town centre, rather than exploiting the easy wins to the overall detriment of the area. Kendal can be a vibrant and attractive town and we should be working towards making the local economy more resilient rather than undermining it.

If you would like to get involved, please email us at nosainsburyinkendal@gmail.com.

To the right hand side of this page there are links to related articles and websites, as well as our online petition.  This blog is in its early days and more will be added very soon, once Sainsbury's has submitted its application.

Thanks very much for reading and please keep visiting our blog for further updates.