In recent times the government has spoken about the benefits of localism, the merits of regeneration and brought the planning system up to date.
However, in the case of the latter there still seems to be a gaping loophole that is open to and is being exploited by big business.
Yet, as a local councillor, I and local residents are powerless to stop development of an unwanted Tesco Express store that will almost certainly sound the death knell of a thriving village shopping centre.
Tesco would seem to be becoming a monopoly and at times an exception to the law.
Because of the site chosen for their new store, a once-thriving local pub which has become a victim of the recession and no doubt the smoking ban, they do not need planning permission for a change of use or principle of development.
This means neither the district council, local representatives or residents have any say in the opening of this establishment, the impact on traffic movements or times of delivery to the shop.
If Tesco were required to make a formal application for planning permission they would have been obliged to carry out a study assessing the impact the store would have on existing local businesses.
With this not being a requirement, three local stores – some of which have been there as long as I have been alive (45 years) – within a half-mile radius of the new store face an uncertain future.
Tesco claims that the new store will create over 20 new jobs but will almost certainly impact on jobs within current businesses.
The last thing we need is local village shopping centres being threatened by a national supermarket chain. Localism is supposed to give more power to local residents and local councillors, yet the opportunity to close this loophole has been missed in the new planning framework.
While I accept a small local business can benefit from this, it has been ruthlessly exploited by Tesco where two Express stores would not have gained planning consent due to the sites chosen being in an unacceptable location.
We have a large Tesco store on the outskirts of town, and four Express stores with a fifth being built.
My concern is Bognor Regis is becoming a Tesco town, totally dominated by one national company who appear to be looking more and more like a monopoly.
If this continues there will be very little choice or competition for local consumers.
Councillor Simon McDougall
County, district and parish councillor (Bersted)