Sunday, 13 June 2010

Our Letter to Crosby Herald and all Councillors

The future of Crosby Village

Dramatic as it sounds, the nature of Crosby Village for the next 25 years and beyond is going to be decided this summer, probably in the next 5 weeks.

With vision it could be regenerated as an attractive bustling centre in the day, with thriving restaurants and bars in a much safer environment at night. But right now it is more likely that about half of the recognisable village will be destroyed and replaced with multistory car parks and a huge supermarket, providing the final nail in the coffin for the few local businesses that remain.

Sainsbury’s is the most important shop in the village but it’s proposal to build a new store more than 3 times bigger than the existing one will damage the village beyond repair.

Sainsbury’s want a store so big that they can only fit it in by destroying most of Moor Lane and building right across this historic route, which is the birth place of Crosby at its junction with Liverpool Road.  They want to bring so many more cars to Crosby Village that most of the remaining space in it becomes 2 or 4 storey carparks and they even lift their new supermarket off the ground, up to first floor, to get more cars under it. People in the village will have to use moving ramps to get in to it.  The large and very high white box building Sainsbury’s propose belongs on a retail park, not in an historic village centre.  Indeed Sainsbury’s want it to be 20% bigger than the ASDA in Bootle and they want a third of their new shop to sell clothes, books, stationary, homewares and electricals all directly completing with existing and potential smaller local businesses.

In their publicity Sainsbury’s say they will create 11 other new shops in the village.  They do not so clearly mention that they are knocking down 12 (?? TBC) of the existing shops on Moor Lane.  Although Sainsbury’s say they will ensure that the village keeps its Post Office and specialist chemist, even now just 5 weeks before the Council is due to review the plans, there is nowhere for any of the businesses on Moor Lane to relocate into whilst the new Sainsbury’s is built.  This would leave these local traders with no business premises for at least 18 months, by which time they may well have gone bust.  The businesses affected are Satterthwaites, Blues Bar, Lloyds Chemist, ... TBC...

We wonder if Satterthwaites lost their oldest shop, in the heart of Crosby, for this length of time that their entire business might be at risk of going bust in the current recession.  Imagine that.

The combination of halving the number of shops in the village whilst disrupting the rest of them with the construction of the new supermarket for more than a year, and then a big ‘retail park’ Sainsbury’s increasing its direct competition with many local retailers really could kill off the idea of the village as the local centre. Some people have joked it will be Sainsburyville.

Yet for all this Sainsbury’s is a good grocer and essential to Crosby’s future.  We have a positive vision where a new bigger, better Sainsbury’s store contributes to the true regeneration of the whole village with an attractive new building which could be more than twice as big as the existing store, but not three and a half times bigger as they are currently proposing.  This might sound like little difference but Sainsbury’s have a very aggressive national expansion programme, and they seem to have hardly any interest in their actual impact in real local communities, and they say they will not now reconsider their proposals.  Their business target is to catch up with Tescos.

Sefton Council has no plans of their own for Crosby and appear to have let Sainsbury’s have free run whilst developing their inappropriate proposals. The traders in Crosby are very worried but are working to maintain their businesses in the short term and are trapped, not wanting to upset their landlord – Sainsbury’s.

So that leaves us…and you. 
There is a recession, but there is also a future, especially for the young people of Crosby.  What do we want Crosby to be like in 25 years time?, and right now, for the next 5 weeks what are we going to do about it?

We have formed a campaign group, ABetterCrosby, (search online - all one word). We understand the Planning Process and how to work with it to get Sainsbury’s current plans rejected at the Planning Committee on 21st July.  We have a strategy of action up to this vital Planning meeting.  We are able to draw on the advice of the experts who designed and built Liverpool ONE.  In the week since our Facebook group started we have gained over 300 supporters, and over 1000 people have already joined a separate group to ‘Save Crosby’.
Behind their adverts Sainsbury’s are a big commercial corporation and they won’t change their plans readily, we need all the help we can get.
Will you help us?



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