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       Stour Community First


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Press releases

30th. September 2008. Manningtree: “Tesco Tailback” Car Protest - point proved before wheels turn

30th. July 2008. Manningtree Town Council Opposes Tesco Superstore

23rd. July 2008. Community Group Opens the Case Against Superstore Plans







30th. September 2008
Manningtree: “Tesco Tailback” Car Protest - point proved before wheels turn
Stour Community First’s (SCF) car protest, the “Tesco Tailback”, planned for October has stirred reactions from a local Councilor before even making it off the driveway. The “Tesco Tailback” was devised to show how Manningtree would be affected by the traffic flow that Tesco has given in its own planning application.

Michael Coultharde-Steer, Chairman of SCF said “It is good to see that Cllr Valerie Guglielmi appreciates the potentially disastrous effects that increased traffic congestion in and around Manningtree could have. However, we are surprised that she has decided to focus her attention on Stour Community First’s proposal to bring just 50 extra cars into the area for an hour long one-off event, labeling it as 'dangerous' and 'irresponsible', when Tesco are proposing to attract over seven times as much traffic to the streets of our town, each and every Saturday morning if the store is built. These figures are not hearsay or guesswork: they appear in the traffic assessment commissioned by Tesco themselves to support their planning application, and can be freely inspected in Manningtree library.”

Whilst SCF were in the initial stages of planning the protest, Co-op Fiveways started their £1.3million regeneration program with a controversial closure of part of the car-park. In light of this reduction in parking spaces SCF have had to revisit the plans. One local resident said "I rather think that Fiveways have beaten you to it in your hope to bring Manningtree to a stand still through traffic chaos."

SCF are currently speaking with local Police and the wider community.  These discussions will ensure that the event can go-ahead without problems to emergency services whilst still proving what would happen if the proposed plans were to be approved.

As yet no decision on the date of the proposed event has been made – and will only be finalised once SCF have completed their discussions with the authorities and taken note of any advice and recommendations. They did this for their Daisy Chain event in August and it was a tremendous success.


Michael Coultharde-Steer confirmed, “SCF members agree with Cllr Guglielmi when she says that 'people are very concerned about this'.  They are quite right to be, which is precisely why we are proposing this action. If the Tesco store gets the go-ahead, it will be too late to do anything about it.”

He concluded, “We firmly believe that a carefully planned and managed event, such as we are proposing, following the proper consultations with the police and emergency services, will serve to graphically demonstrate the dire consequences of approving this planning application to the residents of our town, the wider community and the decision makers at Tendring District Council.”

“Cllr Guglielmi has raised the issue of the traffic chaos that could be brought to our town very succinctly – but what would be ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ is not our one-off protest but the prospect of a Tesco superstore grinding our narrow streets to a standstill – not for a single hour on a single day, but forever.”

Notes to editors:

Stour Community First was formed in April 2007 and has over 300 members. Although the plans from Tesco to build a new superstore in Manningtree galvanised the group into action it is not just about opposing Tesco. Stour Community First wish to help unify local people, groups and businesses, in doing so improve our community for the benefit of us ALL by putting the Stour Community First.

Media Information:
Michael Coultharde-Steer
Stour Community First





30th. July 2008. Manningtree Town Council Opposes Tesco Superstore
The decision by Manningtree Town Council to oppose the building of a Tesco superstore on Station Road is great news for Manningtree and a vindication of the concerns expressed by Stour Community First since the plans were finally revealed back in May 2008 . The Council, in its 11 page submission to the Tendring District Planning Committee, outlines the disastrous impact such a development would have on the quality of life in and around the town, from increased traffic congestion to closed and empty shops in the High Street and market. Following on from the results at the recent Manningtree Society debate in early July, where Tesco LOST the motion ‘We believe that the community would benefit from the arrival of a  new supermarket’, it is clear that the Stour communities of Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley are waking up to the cold realities that a Tesco superstore would bring to England’s smallest town. Stour Community First are under no illusions of the challenges faced by the town in an increasingly difficult economic climate – but are certain that, like the Town Council and many in the Manningtree Society, a huge Tesco superstore on the edge-of-town would be the final nail in the coffin to any prospect of a revitalised and sustainable future.


23rd. July 2008. Community Group Opens the Case Against Superstore Plans

“Contrary to a lot of rumours that are circulating, the Tesco superstore here in Manningtree is not a done deal', Michael Coultharde-Steer, meeting chair, told a packed audience at the Lawford Venture Centre. 'There are a number of key reasons why Tendring District Council should instantly reject this application...’

More than 200 people came to a meeting hosted by Stour Community First on Tuesday 15th July to hear the case against developing a large Tesco superstore in Manningtree, England’s smallest town.

The opening speaker was John Bloomfield of the Hadleigh Society, who have been successfully fighting against the building of a Tesco out-of-town store in their town for many years. Mr Coultharde-Steer then outlined Stour Community First’s objections to Tesco's Manningtree application...

Retail Need?

There was no requirement for a new 48,427 sq.ft superstore in Manningtree – the frontage of the store being over half the length of the main High Street! Even the recently approved Tendring Local Plan had stated a need for only a small increase of retail space in the town up until 2011. The existing COOP supermarket, located next door to the proposed development, had already submitted plans to expand in size to provide this requirement.

Support for Local Shops?

Tesco claim that their edge-of-centre development would rejuvenate the town – however by Tesco’s own estimates in the application 32% of business would be taken away from the existing COOP store as well as 8% from other local shops. With margins being increasingly squeezed many smaller stores in the High Street would become unsustainable and inevitably close – including, almost certainly, the existing COOP, the Post Office it supports and, ironically, the existing Tesco Express store in the High Street. Tesco’s commitment to the High Street could be illustrated by the fact that their car park would be positioned on the far side of the development – further away from the town centre – with the building in the way.

More Traffic.

The sheer scale of the proposed store (48, 427 sq. ft), on a 1.78 hectare site equivalent to 10% of the size of the Parish of Manningtree itself, required Tesco to encourage many shoppers to travel from outside the town – diminishing Tesco’s ‘local shopping’ argument. Tesco’s own estimates suggested peak levels of 766 trips per hour which, even if accurate, would inevitably cause serious congestion in the existing well known traffic ‘pinch points’ of the medieval High Street and busy Station Road areas. This increase in traffic would also have an impact on the roads and villages surrounding Manningtree itself.

More Lorries.

Although the traffic assessment submitted by Tesco in their application was very vague, it was clear to SCF that the scale of the proposal would require numerous HGVs to supply the store throughout the day. At the recent public consultation Tesco themselves had stated that they would be using the roads off the A120 and this despite there being 7.5T weight limitations on these roads. The Essex County Council Highways department had said that the preferred route would be the B1035 but that Tesco would be able to use smaller roads because the 'except for loading' clause would allow such weight restrictions to be ignored to gain access into Manningtree.



Less Choice.

In conclusion, Mr Coultharde-Steer stated, the new store would, despite what Tesco had said, reduce overall competition and choice in the area, increase congestion and ultimately reduce the quality of life in and around the town itself.

Deadline Approaching Fast.

A lively question and answer session led to the group’s rallying call to submit objections to Mr Peter Fletcher, who had responsibility for this application at the Tendring District Council Planning Department as soon as possible. The deadline of 31st July was fast approaching.

SCF also encouraged everyone to contact their local councillors and local MP, Bernard Jenkin to state their concerns.

Further Information.

Example objection letters setting out SCF’s case, as well as other contextual information, are available from the Stour Community First website at

The next SCF event will be the forming of a ‘human daisy chain’ around the proposed Tesco  site in Manningtree on Saturday August 9th starting at 11am – to highlight the enormous size of the proposed store.

Stour Community First is a campaigning group of local residents who oppose Tesco's proposals for a superstore in Manningtree, England's smallest town.

If you wish to contact the group, become involved, help or offer support in any way then you can ‘phone 0844 585 2049 or email them at



20th. April 2008

"The council has a clear responsibility to reject this application." said Jenny Hawley, chair of the group. "It has just spent several years and tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money agreeing a Local Development Plan. The plan states that there is no justification for additional retail space in Manningtree until at least the year 2011. It was only agreed in December 2007 and it's unclear what might have  changed since then to justify a reversal of that decision. If this document  has any standing at all, and if our money has not been wasted, then the council must say no to Tesco."

Stour Community First is a group of local residents who oppose Tesco's proposal for Manningtree, England's smallest town. A new Tesco store, more than twice the size of the existing Coop would damage the town’s local shops, community and historic character, and make traffic problems much worse.

Stour Community First supports the Coop’s plans to upgrade and extend its Fiveways store, which is pending a decision from Tendring  District Council. We believe, as does the Council in its Local Plan, that this improvement to the Coop is enough to meet the needs of local people.

"There is already a Tesco Express in Manningtree and 10 other stores within a 10 mile radius, not to mention the other big supermarkets. A big new Tesco in our small town is neither necessary nor desirable."



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