The independent London newspaper

Another new store – no thank you

19 March, 2020

The Covent Garden site where Tesco have got the go-ahead for a new store

• I USED to live directly opposite a Tesco store, in a central location, and had such a bad experience that I was eventually forced to move away.

So may I support the objectors to the new Tesco store in Covent Garden (Tesco row neighbours in boycott call, February 27). I fear my fellow Camden residents may not realise exactly what’s coming.

These small grocery stores operate on a “just-in-time” basis. They lease small premises with minimal storage space and rely on constant replenishment from large vehicles that drive continuously around London, making deliveries.

These are large, poll­u­ting diesel-powered artic­ulated vans with refrig­eration equipment mounted on the trailer, which has to run continu­ously to keep the food at the correct temperature and makes a constant noise.

For anyone unfortunate enough to live near one of these stores, the dreaded sound of one of these vans arriving and manoeuvring into position with its “vehicle reversing” warnings is the harbinger of what is to come.

The driver and the store staff begin unloading large metal cages full of groceries. Their clashing and thumping makes an infernal din as they roll them along the pavement to and from the shop, and shunt them inside the trailer by giving them a shove so that they freewheel along until they hit the other cages already inside, with a loud rolling noise followed by a crash.

Other vans come and go delivering bread, milk, etc. at other times, bringing yet more noises that intersperse with the others, like an infernal symphony.

Then there are the Sunday newspapers, which arrive at the crack of dawn in a white van with a very noisy sliding door. The driver pulls out large bundles of newspapers and drops each one with a heavy thump. Then he shuts the sliding door (bang!) and drives off.

When I discovered that my neighbours were as troubled as I was, I tried to get something done. But despite endless meetings with the Tesco area manager, council officers, and others, no resolution was found.

It is probably too late now for the Tesco in Covent Garden, but other similar stores will be applying for licences in future.

So if Camden’s decision-makers feel they must issue these licences they should ensure that residents will not be disturbed. Ideally these licences should only be for the hours of 7am to 10pm.

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