Tesco is the latest in a growing line of retail brands to find their extended store delivery ambitions thwarted by regulators.
The townsfolk of Henley on Thames in south Oxfordshire will not have their nocturnal slumber disturbed, thanks to opposition from residents and local authorities alike to Tesco’s plans for 24 hour deliveries to its store on the edge of town.
Current planning permission dates back to 1993 when the store opened and allows for deliveries to be made between 6am and 11pm.
According to a report in the town’s local Henley Standard, the proposal was jointly opposed by Henley Town Council, Oxfordshire County Council’s highways engineers, the Henley Society, four local residents and the district council’s own environmental health officer.
Tesco commissioned a report which said that daytime noise from the site fell within national guidelines for people indoors, and that lorry drivers would have to switch off their engines and radios when they arrived at the store at night.
“In the competitive market that superstores operate, Tesco requires more time to get the goods from the store’s warehouse area on to the shop floor to meet customer demand for [perishables] and generally replenish stock, especially first thing in the morning. Removing the condition would give Tesco flexibility in servicing the store and enhance customer satisfaction,” the report said.
One local resident, Marcus Binning, was quoted as saying: “I am not aware of any significant changes in the laws of physics so can see no reason that this should be approved when previously noise and disturbance to residents were deemed of sufficient import to result in the current restrictions. Are the good people of Henley to be subjected to endless nocturnal noise just so Tesco can increase its grip on the local economy? How long before Waitrose and others follow suit, claiming they cannot compete, until Henley is a fully developed 24-hour economic hub?”
The town has a population of 10,000 people and sits on the banks of the river Thames, some 35 miles to the west of London.
Henley’s Deputy Mayor Jeni Wood said: “We don’t want more lorries coming though Henley at all and certainly not at night. It is a town of narrow roads with houses on either side so it would have been unfair to allow it. We’re not a big city where that kind of thing is normal. There was no good case for lifting the restriction as the only thing that has changed since it was imposed is that traffic has increased significantly. Tesco seems to be working fine and if it needs help delivering fresh food around the clock it should have a separate depot.”