Campaign launched to stop Tesco in Belsize Park

Independent trader Andrew Thornton. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Independent trader Andrew Thornton. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A popular independent trader is calling on the community in Belsize Park to get behind a campaign to stop supermarket giant Tesco opening a store in the area.

Andrew Thornton, who runs Thorton’s Budgens, in Haverstock Hill, fears plans from Tesco to open an Express store on the site of the old HSBC bank in Haverstock Hill could sound the death knell for the area’s independent food stores.

Tesco submitted an application to Camden Council for a licence to sell alcohol on the old HSBC site on Christmas Eve last week.

Mr Thornton said: “The major supermarkets are experiencing their out of town stores struggling. They are using their muscle power to get back into the high street at the expense of the less strong independent retailers.

“Tesco is not interested in supporting the local community and their arrival would be one more step towards Belsize becoming another faceless high street made up of remotely run multiple chains.

“Tesco chose Christmas Eve to put in their application which suggests they know that there will be local objections and they hope to minimise these.”

Mr Thornton has experience of supermarket chain competition having been forced to sell the franchise for his store in Crouch End back to Budgens after suffering a drop in business following the opening of a Waitrose in the area.

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He also warned that there would be future traffic problems in Belsize Park should a Tesco open as the supermarket’s delivery trucks would be forced to flout parking restrictions owing to the fact there is no loading bay outside the old HSBC site.

Mr Thornton hopes to replicate the successful campaign started by South End Green residents against proposals to open a Sainsbury’s store in the neighbourhood.

Belsize Park resident Linda Grove said: “Tesco will make no efforts in our community and it will be the death of our local shops.

“I am totally opposed to the arrival of Tesco and I would encourage my local community to shout loud and clear, ‘No to Tesco.’”

Another resident Anne Ward said: “There is already a Tesco a few hundred yards away in England’s Lane. Another Tesco store will add nothing to our community and will threaten all of our valued and excellent local providers.”

Mr Thornton will hold a campaign meeting at Chez Bob, in Haverstock Hill, on Monday at 10.30am.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We consider new store locations where we think we can bring something new and different that customers will appreciate.

“We’re proud of the contribution we make to every community we serve, creating jobs, supporting local charities and groups, and providing affordable, high quality fresh food to local people.”