Town by Tesco™

While developers in the U.K. have fallen prey to the recession, Tesco supermarkets have been extremely successful. Now the company is planning several new developments of their own with homes and shops centered around the grocery store.

Tesco has at least nine proposals in the works for these "supermarket-led mixed-use developments." One reason Tesco is moving into the home building business is that the combination of housing, schools and sports facilities makes it easier to convince officials to build superstores they may have previously refused.

Hans van der Heijden, a Dutch architect who also works in Britain, was interviewed by The Guardian about the Tesco Towns: "It is slightly absurd to make private enterprises responsible for things that are, in the end, public. The interesting comparison is with other private enterprises that created places such as the garden cities, but in those instances there was an element of charity at work related to some form of emancipation and public interest. That seems to be absent here. It's a money machine."

Full Story: 'This town has been sold to Tesco'



it's about time! . . . and food

This plan makes perfect sense. I hope they also plan for schools as both markets and schools should be walkable destinations. In fact, if I were developing in an urban area in the US, I would put the grocery at the ground level and the school in levels 2+. The school can provide good meals because real food is delivered daily. If driving is necessary for the parents, this kills 2 errand birds with 1 parking stall stone. The downside is that the market gets flooded when school lets out.

Tesco Towns

It would be good if they were building walkable destinations. But judging from the article, they are building typical auto-dependent superstores (similar to Wal-Marts) plus other uses.

From the article:

In Trafford, Manchester, a 168,000 sq ft Tesco will dominate a 50-acre site. Love Lane, Woolwich, and the Streatham Hub development, both in south London, and Queen's Square in West Bromwich are all home to similar proposed Tesco developments that are in partnership with the local authority.

This is what happened in Trafford in March, when a 168,000 sq ft store and accompanying development was granted planning permission, although an application for an 89,000 sq ft store on the same site was refused in 2006. The difference is that this time the redevelopment of Lancashire county cricket club is part of the scheme.

Friends of the Earth says the council's desire to develop the cricket ground "has been used as an excuse to back a superstore development which would otherwise be ruled out for its unacceptable negative impact".

It's a similar story in St Helens, Merseyside, where Tesco is building a stadium for St Helens rugby league club, but the new superstore and massive car park will dominate, relegating the stadium to round the back of the site.

Charles Siegel

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