Top 50 Indie Symonds Retail is one of many retail establishments in Sherborne, Dorset, celebrating the town’s landmark campaign success since the announcement by Tesco MD, Chris Bush, earlier this month that Tesco has withdrawn its plans to replace a popular hotel with a 28,000 sq ft superstore.
Nick Lloyd, md of Symonds Retail, which has nine forecourts, including one in Sherborne, said it had been a formidable campaign. It was led by media activity on www.nothankstesco.co.uk and supported by the Keep Sherborne Viable Action Group (including Sherborne & Society CPRE, local businesses, tourism groups, schools and residents) .
Robert Gould, leader of West Dorset District Council said the campaign was unprecedented, with the largest ever petition of 11,324 signatures presented to cabinet minister and local MP, Oliver Letwin, at the pre-planning stage.
A press release on the campaign’s website said: “Sherborne has been held up as a landmark example of what is possible when a professionally organised group of business people and individuals gets together to stage a carefully executed and sustained protest – engaging with the public, local authorities, leading opinion makers, national media and top Directors of the opposition (in this case Tesco) from the outset. The swell of public opinion, together with a robust Local Plan and a council prepared to enforce local planning policies has meant Tesco really had no other choice but to back down.”
The campaign believes the future is now looking bright for Sherborne’s historic and unique town centre; and for its tourism industry and high street economy.” New business friendships have been formed as a result of working together on the campaign and number of very positive initiatives are being discussed to promote what the town has to offer,” it states on its website. “The wealth of places to stay and eat (including the recently rescued Sherborne Hotel); its great independent shops and high street businesses, its markets and local producers and its wonderful range of arts and cultural events will be the focus of attention now that the prospect of an edge-of-town superstore has been overthrown. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and here’s to the future vitality of Sherborne!”