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Stop Tesco destroying Broughton


Update March 26: Tesco is coming to Broughton, what will happen to local shops?  See Broughton awaits Tesco Express

Can we stop Tesco dominating the landscape? I feel strongly that we can and must. But we will need to be quick. Letters to protest against yet another Tesco store in the Broughton area have to reach the council’s head of planning by 20 March.  That’s just over a week to raise a campaign against  wanton destruction of local character and independence.

Why on earth would we need another Tesco store in this area? There is already the Tesco supermarket at Canonmills and a Tesco Metro in Leith. But Britain’s biggest trade guzzler (Tesco reports pre-tax profits of £1.45bn) has swooped on the opportunity of Reid Furniture store closing in Picardy Place.

That’s a death threat to the diversity of local shops that give Broughton a real buzz and a true sense of place: Crombie’s one of the best butchers in Edinburgh, Mr Fishy, the Deli, and many small, friendly corner shops.

But we don’t have to let it happen. A campaign is already growing. On his way to the station this morning Ray was handed a flyer by the young man serving him in the newsagent. He emailed it to me from the train and said get blogging.

Our vigilant local newsletter, Spurtle, is also urging local residents to write to the council. According to the Spurtle message on the excellent new EH7 Noticeboard.

Tesco’s have applied for planning permission at 8 Picardy Place (Ref. 09/00385/FUL). They are intending the installation of a ‘shopfront to Picardy Place, plant louvres to Broughton St Lane, and interior fitout’ on 3 floors. The target determination date is 17 April 2009 so letters of objection will have to be sent in SOON.

Spurtle editor, Alan McIntosh, says they will not lead a campaign against Tesco but they will report (and therefore support) one and they have already alerted local city councillors, MPs and MSPs.

It’s not going to be easy. Tesco does not need to apply for change of use to open their store. But when people unite to combine well-informed argument with political weight they can stop the behemoth retailer in its tracks. A good cause for Greener Leith maybe?

The point about architectural heritage is worth making. We could campaign to develop Picardy Place so that it is a handsome gateway to the city centre. Better options for the old furniture store would be a new arts centre. Or how about a whole foods organic indoor market which would complement rather than compete with local shops?

Take a look at Whole Foods in Chicago for an example of style, substance and retailing success. Now, isn’t this an opportunity for Real Foods (crammed with good stuff but cramped) to expand into 21st century credit-crunch, climate change reality? Tesco should have no future in this environment.

[PS added 13 March: In response to the point made by Tony Leach I have removed my original opening sentence, referring to ‘Tesco outrage’  although I am still outraged at this real threat to the viability of our local independent shops.  I will certainly write to MP MSPS and councillors using measured reasoning]



  1. Richard Harries

    I was refering to most of them. For me, poor hygiene is a problem in many Edinburgh corner-type shops. I appreciate that not everyone agrees, and ‘clean’ can, unfortunately, be a subjective word.

  2. Administrator

    Interested to read your comment Richard and intrigued that this Tesco blog continues to attract new comments. I certainly hope you are right that Broughton Street will not be affected by the Tesco Express but am rather surprised by your description of filthy corner shops in Broughton. Not one that fits my experience. I wonder which shops you are thinking of?

  3. Richard Harries

    This type of campaign was run in Stockbridge prior to the opening of Sainsbury Metro, and the expansion of Scotmid, which has a Stockbridge shop AROUND THE CORNER from the new one, which is where Woolworth used to be. The effect on local traders on Raeburn Place has been zero. These small supermarkets do not take business away from the locals, apart perhaps from corner shops, many of whom could compete with Tesco, if only they cleaned up their own act, in many cases literally. Some of the corner-type shops on Broughton Street are filthy, and if a larger proprietor who has heard of hygiene affects their trading, they only have themselves to blame. Customers of Crombie and Something Fishy absolutely will not take their custom to Tesco. That’s a fact.

  4. Alan Stockdale

    Not needed. A ten minute walk down to Canonmills will keep you fit!

  5. Can't tell cause I'll get sacked....

    I work at Tesco on the CSD (Customer service desk) at Broughton and I agree with everyone here, there is noooo need for ANOTHER Tesco in Edinburgh. For the love of god, give local & public shops the chance to grow. They may not be able to give the same price as the major competitors, but these people are people like you and me trying to make a living in what they do. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHOP!!!

  6. Administrator

    Hi JC

    wrong on two counts maybe? thanks for your comments – of course supermarkets have a place, I just don’t want them to dominate the landscape.

  7. jc

    tesco is fantastic, affordable quality – what more can one ask for? Their profits are based on having a business model that works – affordable quality. Per store your val and cor is making much greater profits, but the normal punter can’t afford that . At the other end farm foods is v affordable but absolute rubbish, teso and then sainsbury are best options for majority of people to feed themselves on good quality. All this ‘tesco is a blight on the landscape’ makes me sick, get a grip for goodness sake…this missive probably won’t make your site me thinks…

  8. Administrator

    Hello Jerry. I am not much of a betting person (never yet managed to back a winning horse) but am almost tempted to take up your challenge. However, it is not a completely foregone conclusion that Tesco will open in Picardy Place. I am glad to say Broughton Street shops have formed a traders association which will give them more weight to oppose developments that are not in the best interests of the community – and the planning department has written to say my objection has been accepted and considered “material to the determination of this application”.

  9. jerry

    bet you shop in it when it opens… know you will even if you say you wont even if its only once in an emergency!

  10. Ally

    @James The New Economics Foundation found evidence that local, independent stores keep more money and jobs in the local economy. More info at

  11. Rebecca

    Tesco probably want to locate here because it’s right next to the proposed tram/bus interchange (if trams ever happen that is). As part of the trams plan all the greenery at Picardy Place would be removed and the road would move to right in front of the premises, so in view of all the changes which would happen anyway due to the trams, I don’t think objecting on the grounds of increased traffic or damage to the townscape would be relevant.

    I don’t think it’s valid to claim the building would be damaged architecturally – externally it would probably be improved if anything, and don’t forget it was a Co-op store back in the 1970s and the ground and basement interiors have lost any original features long ago.

    May I make a point about the flyer which I have seen? The author shoud be identified. This matters because those reading it need to be clear where the author is coming from. If it’s by a local shopkeeper, it’s out of concern for the survival of his/her business, which should generate sympathy. Because the author isn’t identified the suspicion could arise that it’s by someone taking the opportunity to have a go at Tesco from an anti-capitalist standpoint.

  12. Administrator

    Thanks James for last comment.

    I didn’t expect so much traffic on this blog, I guess it is a good sign that people take the topic seriously.

    But a couple of extra points (can’t promise they will be the last). I have lived in this area for 32 years so I do have a local interest in the shops and businesses that survive here. I don’t want to lose them because they are one of the reasons I like living here.

    Compare Broughton Street with its great variety of shops and cafes with poor old Rodney Street right next to the Canonmills Tesco Supermarket. All the food shops and chemists have gone out of business leaving empty windows and a down at heel feeling. (Bucking the trend is Fiore Italia and long may they prosper!)

    If Tesco are really planning an express store in Picardy Place (and why would they want three floors for that?) then they will not be offering much in terms of quality to the area or many jobs to the local economy.

    I am not totally against supermarkets, in fact I have to own up to using a Tesco loyalty card but my loyalty does not extend to seeing Tesco take over every available retailing space. Tesco account for £1 in every £3 spent on groceries in the UK, they have a huge impact on the market place. In such an environment I do not believe there is such a thing as freedom of choice for shoppers.

  13. James

    Last comment, I promise!

    Firstly, this is an Express that is going here. it will have no food counters so will nto effect the deli or fish shops. The main target is for people who are passing bye on their way to somewhere else.

    I fully agree that larger Tescos can have a ‘Wallmart’ effect on the vitality and viability of local centres. However, in this case local people will only use to to get the very basics.

    And on the point of profits in local shops staying local. What evidence is there to support this? Any local newsagaents get there goods from cash and carries who are owned from further afield. If anything the greater amount of jobs means more wages going into local peoples pockets. And the money saved from cheaper milk and flowers will likely be spent in the local area!

  14. Administrator

    This campaign is worth supporting because evidence from other towns shows that local shops suffer when Tesco (metro or mega) opens in the area.

    It is also worth supporting because Tesco is meeting opposition in other towns across the UK and has been forced to withdraw plans for expansion following local resistance in London and (at least for the time being) in Cambridge.

    There are other economic and social reasons which I shall marshall for a follow-up blog but quality of life is possibly the strongest. Tesco would certainly effect the viability of shops in Broughton Street, but it would also change the character and identity of Picardy Place for the worse.

    Picardy Place could be better. But as the recent Competition Commission report observed, the UK’s most powerful retailer tends to create a bland look of ‘Tesco Towns’. As Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh should and could aspire to a landscape and public space which enhance our quality of life.

  15. Rob Hainsworth


    1. Tesco bankrupts local shops, whose profits do at least stay in the local area and in so doing creates “ghost shopping streets” populated solely by charity shops.

    2. There is already a Tesco 300 yards further down Leith Walk.

    3. What about the extra traffic and atmospheric pollution In an already heavily congested area and where is the parking going to be?

    4. Tesco and the other “food giants” actively use their vast resources to undercut and drive out the specialist food suppliers, to drive small food producers out of business and to become monopoly outlets.

  16. James

    I live on picardy place and i for one am very happy for a new tesco to open.

    If people don’t like it then don’t shop there. It’s a free market after all!

    Additionally, i find it poor form to object to something on grounds that you have no interest in jsut because the anger that you have is not material to the outcome of the decision!

  17. Ray

    Write to local councillors. This must be stopped. This time it is Broughton Street, next time Stockbridge, Morningside and every other local shopping community in the city.

  18. Tony Leach

    “Stop Tesco destroying Broughton.”
    “We must fight this new Tesco outrage.”

    I just don’t buy into these inflammatory statements. Perhaps if you presented a reasoned case as to why a supermarket is a bad thing I could be persuaded to support your campaign, however I don’t see anything here which presents a reasoned case against.

    Shoppers vote with their feet. Supermarkets provide cheap food, specialist outlets serve niche markets, one needn’t be a threat to the other.

  19. bobby perman

    Definitely not needed, scumbags!

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