Traders fear Tesco arrival will close their businesses
Susanna Wilkey TRADERS in West Hampstead are sick with worry about the new Tesco Express proposed for West End Lane. They say business will be destroyed by the supermarket, which will be the ninth Tesco within a two-mile radius, because they cannot compet
TRADERS in West Hampstead are sick with worry about the new Tesco Express proposed for West End Lane.
They say business will be destroyed by the supermarket, which will be the ninth Tesco within a two-mile radius, because they cannot compete with the corporate giant's prices.
Traders are already suffering with the credit crunch and fear a new Tesco will push them over the edge.
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Vithalani Kamlesh, owner of West Hampstead News on West End Lane, said: "We are really worried about Tesco. Business has been down anyway and we are concerned about what we are going to do if it opens. No traders want Tesco here. It is hard enough already and we are fretting."
Goran Alagic, owner of Hampstead Food and Drinks, said: "We are worried about our trade. If they open we will have to close. They sell absolutely everything we have except a few strong beers and they can sell cheaper than us.
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"They will be just three doors down but we cannot do anything about it. And everything is about 10p more because we can't afford such cheap prices.
"We wanted to open something else to boost the business, like Oyster cards and the lottery, but we were told we were not allowed.
"I have written to the council saying we know people want Tesco because West End Lane doesn't have a big chain store, but please give us the chance to do something else.
"We wanted to open a creperie but they won't let us and told us we were unlikely to be successful if we applied, so we didn't because it is expensive.
"The council allow the big fish to do whatever they want but not the independent people."
The new supermarket is set to open at the former Woods and Woods furniture shop, which had been there for three decades. Owner Damien Pullen told the Ham&High in January he parted with the site after Tesco made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Hameed Abdul, manager of Best One on West End Lane, now fears for the jobs of his 22 employees.
"We are very worried about it and we do not want them there but there is nothing we can do," he said. "If Tesco opens many of our staff could lose their jobs.
"The credit crunch has already affected us and we are a community store. Tesco will create a lot of extra traffic in West Hampstead as well, which nobody wants."
Tesco has applied to install a new shopfront with four anti-ram bollards, two illuminated signs and a cash machine with two more bollards.
The store does not need to apply for a change of use of the site because it was already a shop - which means it is likely to be approved.
The recent application for Tesco on Belsize Road in South Hampstead was made under similar circumstances and the council had no choice but to approve the store.
A consultation on the proposed West End Lane store closes tomorrow. To comment, visit www.camden. gov.uk.
A council spokeswoman said: "The council aims to have a good balance of retail, food, drink and entertainment outlets in West End Lane that reflect West Hampstead's vitality as a town centre and our concerns for local residents' amenities.
"We have clear policies in place to achieve that. We are happy to provide detailed advice for any application made by a business and guidelines on how to make such an application
can be found on our website at www.camden.gov.uk."