Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-423)
MS LUCY NEVILLE-ROLFE, MR TONY EGGS AND MR IAN COULL
WEDNESDAY 17 APRIL 2002
420. How would you contribute to identified local needlet us say, impoverished local communities who do not have easy access to retail provision? Would you feel you have any responsibility there? Would you look at things solely in terms of your own commercial interest?
(Ms Neville-Rolfe) We do not rule out any areas for investment, as I think we have shown from the different formats and different types of stores that we have, including small and regeneration stores. We are always looking at the different needs. We see the main conversation about that being within the local framework. We think the regional framework will set the overall tone and seek broad trend information, not try to get into very detailed allocations. It is a challenge for the new structure.
421. In particular, Sainsbury's stand out as being one of the only people to be in favour of business planning zones. I would like to know how you think that idea would lead to better development?
(Mr Coull) We think it is a useful tool to have in the kit. There are very few simplified planning zones and if we go back to the late eighties there were a number of enterprise zones which were on a similar basis. Although it will not impact directly on us very much because simplified planning zones and enterprise zones tended to have retail as an excluded activity, it seems to us sensible to have within the armoury the ability to look at an area which requires regeneration and to simplify the process dramatically because you are asking developers and land owners to make investment in putting together planning applications, putting together environmental impact assessments and all the rest of the paraphernalia that attaches to a planning application in an area where there is maybe not a lot of gain for them, because it is pretty unattractive, and with a high degree of uncertainty. I believe that the business planning zone has some merit as a tool but it will be used, in my view, very rarely.
422. Tesco I think have an alternative view. You said in the memorandum that if there was a general reform business planning zones would not be needed.
(Ms Neville-Rolfe) We did not really see this as a particular opportunity for us. We thought in relation to supermarket developments that on the whole you would need to go through planning for such developments. You could not exclude them. This might not be true of, say, signposts for which we make planning applications. But we did not see BPZs as of a huge relevance so therefore we were neutral.
423. How would you see the mixed use scheme? Is this a practical way forward?
(Mr Coull) Mixed use schemes are very much following government policy because brown field land looks at more than just putting a supermarket on the ground floor. The use of the air space, the more intensive use of the site as a whole, is something that we both favour and we are both doing quite a lot of work on that at the moment. The thing to be aware of in mixed use is that a lot of the mixed use that is done on top of the supermarket is not value creating. When we come to planning obligations negotiations, for example, if we are providing affordable housing, that has to be offset against any planning obligation requirements.
Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much indeed for your evidence.