Local Secrets – ‘No Tesco on Mill Road’

This article below was published in Local Secrets on 19th October 2007.

In the next of our City Viewpoints features local correspondent Rob Coe defends Mill Road’s right to resist the ‘Tescopoly’ of our towns and cities.

Only in the last few weeks was it confirmed that Tesco wanted to move into the old Wilco site on Mill Road.

TescopolyFor Mill Road, read the Haight-Ashbury, Camden Town or Greenwich Village: a bohemian treasure and a microcosm of 21st Century British life. In addition to the traditional British independent retailers the road is also a vital resource for immigrant and international students and a tourist attraction of its own. On one of the country’s longest shopping streets, its possible to buy anything from an abacus to a xylophone, with restaurants that span the world from Brazil to Bangladesh and Turkey to Thailand side by side.

Tesco is a threat to its unique charms, damaging local traders and using its corporate muscle to create a bland high street. People come from near and far to Mill Road because of its very vibrancy. But if the chains move in it will lose its identity and vitality. This means those people will no longer have a reason to come here. Every little certainly doesn’t help.

Safety of all road users is another big worry. The increased traffic Tesco will produce doesn’t sit nicely with the City Council’s drive to reduce car usage within the ring road and its constant deliveries will unavoidably contribute to congestion out of all proportion to its size. Articulated lorries unloading out the front and limited parking space for customers is completely unacceptable in terms of noise, congestion and road safety.

Opposition to Tesco has brought out the best in Mill Road. The outpouring of love for Mill Road has been awe inspiring. There has been an unprecedented campaign against the spectre of Tesco. The action group has launched a high profile guerrilla marketing campaign coordinating letter writing, media appearances, a Facebook site and a petition amongst other measures.

If we can take this opportunity to foster something positive in our area beyond just a defensive response we can improve our quality of life, our local resources and get that feeling that we live in a real community – something that sadly is often in short supply.

Tesco has been beaten before on Unthank Road in Norwich, a similar neighbourhood to Cambridge threatened by the retail giant’s incessant development.

Mill Road is a real local secret. Tesco is not.

The deadline for objections to the planning applications has been extended by the City Council by one week to Friday 19 October. Details of how to oppose these plans and get involved with the campaign are at www.nomillroadtesco.org.

Published in Local Secrets, 19th October 2007.

Comments are closed.