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Monday, 27 July 2009

Not in my backyard-Sainsburys destroys village businesses

I moved to Bishops Waltham in 1996 from the smog of London. I was attracted by its village atmosphere, tight-knit community and thriving local shops. Bishops Waltham (made recently famous by the being the home of Amanda Holden for many years during her childhood) has changed since then. More and more houses have been built and suddenly it has appeared on the Big Supermarkets' radar. Sainsbury is proposing constructing a huge store on the site of the former Abbey Mill Business Park. So what's new? This is happening to thousands of rural communities not just in this country but all over Europe. It is weird when you read about it happening to other villages etc you empathise but not half as much when it happens on your doorstep and everything that you hold dear and value is being challenged. Bishops Waltham has a fishmonger, baker, greengrocer, butcher, coffee shop, delicatessen and numerous other shops which all thrive. The traders all help each other out and they all do very well. In one fell swoop Sainsbury will gradually kill off all of these businesses and we will all be poorer for that.
Why does Sainsbury want to open in a village when it has one of the largest superstores in the UK at Hedge End only 15 minutes drive away. There is also large Sainsburys stores at Eastleigh and Fareham also only 15 minutes drive away. I am sure Sainsburys knows just what it is doing and has done its demographics scrupulously. They would not be going to the expense of defending a public inquiry and mailshotting every house in Bishops Waltham putting their side of the argument, if there was not some serious money to be made.
So the damage was done when the planners permitted intensive housing development in Bishops Waltham increasing the population to a size where it suddenly becomes viable for Sainsburys to build a £1m store in a rural village. There is no winding back of the clock. Pandora is out of the box.
In the meantime, we will all fight and do everything we can to stop this destruction and you might wish to log on to the dedicated action group website to prevent this action. The web site link is below.