Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sainsbury's drop a bombshell on Tonbridge....

Well, well well! Who'd have thunk it? Sainsbury's it seems have done the dirty on Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) and it ain't a cruel April Fools joke. Their, much trumpeted new store, combined with a cinema and leisure centre complex on Bradford Street has been canned. It seems to be in the face of "changing retail patterns" by which I think they mean that they've just noticed this new way of shopping called the internet. It took them long enough but they got there in the end! They have now worked out that, instead of a giant hyper market style store in Tonbridge town centre, all they actually need is a couple of nerds and a few computers in a building in a low rent, poor part of Wales and tiny little "Xpress" shops (or is that Tesco?!) on the High Street. So a bit like the Spa shops model of about 40 years ago except now you don't even have to bother to leave your house and order the food, you can just lay around at home in your underpants, watching Jeremy Kyle and Heir Hunters whilst ordering your fruit and veg and cheap baked beans, only bothering to drag on a pair of stained jogging bottoms when the delivery man arrives at your house. Pretty soon they too will be replaced by robots! Anyway, I digress. Sainsbury's have really dropped a bombshell here as Councillor Nicholas Hedgelop will testify. In fact he's jolly hopping mad at the amount of work he and the rest of the council have put in on this. Especially the scheme to build a new leisure centre and cinema on a flood prone street. He is said to have commented that it really wasn't cricket to stop the building of this site which they hoped would, in the next few years, be able to match the flooded swimming pool, football and rugby pitches so that fitness fanatics, and just casual visitors of all standards, plus the unemployed, who can enjoy services at a fraction of the cost of peak time users, who just want to give badminton or underwater table tennis a go without feeling committed, can play sports in a river water themed, relaxed, semi-aquatic environment. Sainsbury's were unavailable for comment except to say that they are really, really, really sorry. They were last seen examining the Iron Age Castle Hill fort site off the A21 which they reckon will be flood free for at least another 2 years and also very handy for that shopping trip to the North Farm estate.....

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what now of Beales who surrendered their lease to Sainsburys last year for £4 millions? The staff must be told pronto.
And what will become of the ageing Angel Centre? Will TMBC have to spend a few millions to revitalize or maybe they should talk to Morrisons who claim they are still keen to build on the Vale road site and see if they can do a deal with them.

Brenda Wilkes said...

Here we again, I do find all your negatives comments about Tonbridge bring at best and negative at worse. Mr Books if Tonbridge is that bad and the people of Tonbridge serve you so poorly, may I respectfully suggest you b@ggar oft to Tunny Wells, Sevenoaks or where ever else you think will serve you a better deal.

Tonbridge blogger said...

Brenda Wilkes: I think you have clearly mis read this post and you are entitled to your opinions but do please make it clear what they are!

Anonymous said...

Mr Books, I don't think that Brenda Wilkes has been following your blog over the last few years and completely misses where you are coming from.
I can see anything in this post for her to moan about, Fact: internet shopping is here to stay, on the increase year by year and town shopping is in decline.
The recent proposed regeneration did not show any signs of flood consideration of the new buildings so you are right to ridicule activities like underwater ping pong.

From here forward maybe TDBC have learnt a lesson that there is no such thing as a free leisure centre as far as major retailers are concerned.
They look after No 1 and their only consideration is to take as much money as possible from local shoppers at the expense of all other local businesses.
So Independents such as Mr Books that risk their own cash may have had a lucky escape.

Paul Bailey said...

Supping with the Devil and all that, but still something of a bombshell!

I'm not quite sure what to think here. Sainsbury's have blamed "changing retail patterns" for their decision, but whilst I suspect there is far more to it than this alone, it's doubtful that we'll ever know their true reasons. Good riddance to them, so far as I am concerned.

I agree with your two anonymous contributors; firstly what exactly does now happen to Beales? Sainsbury's change of heart will have quite an affect on their plans, and I'm certain Beale's senior management won't be best pleased about it. Secondly, TMBC certainly have learned the hard way that it pays to choose your friends wisely. Hence my opening line about supping with the Devil!

Hopefully the way will be open now for Morrisons to come into the town; but I hope TMBC put in a claim against Sainsbury's for all the hours of wasted work on consultation exercises, exhibitions etc.

Jeremy said...

Or do we expect a revised plan which has less perks for the town and more risk for the council to appear in a few months.

Brett said...

Jeremy - more than likely... You can well imagine Sainsburys coming back now with revised plan to expand into existing Beales floorspace...

Agree with Paul re: supping with the devil - hopefully now TMBC will loosen the Sainsburys shackles that they have seemed to be wearing for a number of years and look to other stores to come to the area..

There are shoots of growth in the town - Finch House, Chatfields, Uskadar and the proposed wine bar plus the new restaurants in Avebury Avenue but it is still in dire need of help. South of the big bridge it looks very grotty indeed and area is now left with a very dated Angel Centre and, as mentioned, a Beales with an uncertain future...

Paul Bailey said...

Looks like Beales might be staying put now. http://bit.ly/1pMHQO5

Anonymous said...

At last sainsburys pull out. Maybe now tonbridge and malling will stop pandering to them and let someone else open in tonbridge. Waitrose were opposed by sainsbury but the john lewis brand prevailed in that one. Good on them. In the past we have lost a free by pass offered by tesco if they were allowed to build on the flood zone where the new blossom bank houses sit in soggy pools. Sainsbury objected to that and the council agreed with them. Come on people of tonbridge let's celebrate being let out of the sainsbury clutches. Come on tonbridge and malling council stop crawling to them . Object to whatever plans they come up with next and welcome with open arms new retailers. Let's celebrate the end of sainsburys dominance .

Anonymous said...

At last sainsburys pull out. Maybe now tonbridge and malling will stop pandering to them and let someone else open in tonbridge. Waitrose were opposed by sainsbury but the john lewis brand prevailed in that one. Good on them. In the past we have lost a free by pass offered by tesco if they were allowed to build on the flood zone where the new blossom bank houses sit in soggy pools. Sainsbury objected to that and the council agreed with them. Come on people of tonbridge let's celebrate being let out of the sainsbury clutches. Come on tonbridge and malling council stop crawling to them . Object to whatever plans they come up with next and welcome with open arms new retailers. Let's celebrate the end of sainsburys dominance .

Anonymous said...

Great opportunity for the council.
They say that the Angel centre/Beales/Sainsburys buildings are not fit for the modern day customer.
I presume TMBC own the land so give the retailers notice and knock the lot down.
Then take a leaf out of the Mary Portas town centre review and put an open undercover market by Angel Walk. Make parking free on Market days. Next speak to Morrisons about their site in Value road and see if a Leisure centre can be built there together with their supermarket.
WE don't need to lose Bradford Street car park as this brings shoppers right into the town.

Anonymous said...

And the vale road area doesn't flood. What muppet in the council thought it a good idea to put the sports centre in th middle of a flood area. Probably the same one that insisted the swimming pool went in a flood zone despite locals pointing out the error of their ways. We now have the opportunity to sort it out now that the sainsbury influence has gone. Long may it stay far far away. We don't need you sainsburys. Go away and let us enjoy our town.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I find shopping in the Sainsbury's we have now a daunting and depressing experience. Do we really need any more aisles of ready meals and oven chips? Even if the new one had brought more shoppers to Tonbridge, most of them would probably stay only for their hour of free parking and depart without visiting the rest of the town. I can't see that we need a new leisure centre either - there's nothing wrong with the Angel Centre that a lick of paint and a bit of maintenance wouldn't put right. And the Medway Hall would be greatly missed by all the organisations that use it - NADFAS & the U3A to name but two.