‘Every little won’t help’ in Belsize

Belsize village and Primrose Hill residents have reacted angrily to rumours that a new Tesco “mini-mart” store may open in their neighbourhoods.

A poster, attached to a tree in Belsize Terrace, claimed that a Tesco Village mini mart store would be coming to Primrose Hill, Belsize village and King’s Cross later this year. The poster purported to be from the Belsize Village Community Group and called for a Tesco mini-market to open in the area to offset the high prices of basic food stuffs.

But it has sparked a furious backlash from supporters of independent shops in Primrose Hill and Belsize.

Tesco already has Express stores in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, Heath Street in Hampstead and St John’s Wood High Street.

One Primrose Hill resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Residents on the whole love small, personal shops. We don’t tend to like high street chains and we kept Starbucks out. We believe in local community shops, not high street chains.”

Belsize Conservative councillor Jonny Bucknell said: “People in this area like small independent shops. They are always reserved about change on the basis that the high street will become homogenised and they don’t like monopolies. Tesco developed through out-of-town superstores. It should leave corner shops to independent traders.”

Rose Harte, 66, of Harmood Street, Chalk Farm, said: “There needs to be an alternative to some of the rip-off prices of bread, milk, fruit and veg in this area. We need a mini supermarket but not Tesco.

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“A small M&S would be good if it kept its prices low, then you could get a pair of knickers when you do your shopping.”

This week, Oddbins in Belsize village closed after the wine retailer went into administration.

Residents were saddened to hear that their wine shop was closing as it had been a feature of the area for years.

Councillor and Belsize resident Chris Knight said: “Oddbins closing is a real loss. It’s been a well-respected wine store in this area for years. It was a handy convenience store and the prices were affordable.

“We would resist a Tesco opening in this area tooth and nail. It would squash all the local traders and spoil the character of the village.

“We have an independent grocery, newsagent and bakery. All of that would go if Tesco opened. There is nowhere nicer in the whole of London to sit out and have coffee than Belsize village.”

A Tesco spokeswoman was puzzled by the poster and said the store had not been actively looking at opening new premises in NW3 or NW1.

She said: “We are delighted to hear that there are people in the community who would welcome a new Tesco in the area.

“While we are always on the look-out for new opportunities and would be eager to hear from anyone with ideas of suitable sites, we are not actively looking in this area at the moment.”