Belper Against a Tesco Superstore (BATS) campaign group was launched at a packed public meeting on 24th May 2007 at the Lion Hotel. Nearly 200 people attended the meeting to voice concerns over an anticipated planning application from Tesco.
Tesco invited residents and interested parties to a “community update” at Belper Town Football club at the end of July. BATS held its second public meeting on July 18th 2007 and its third public meeting on the 8th May 2008. In September 2008 BATS published the results of a survey it undertook to determine what residents would like to see the site used for. About 60% of residents wanted the site used for leisure facilities. For more information please see thisisderbyshire.co.uk 2nd September 2008.
Tesco is known to have bought land in the Derwent Street area of Belper and to be talking with the council about building a superstore of up to 80,000 square feet, with 600 parking spaces and featuring 24 hour opening. Talks are believed to have included plans for a ‘relief’ road (in actuality a feeder road directly into their car park) and a new library.
The BATS campaign group is particularly concerned about the effect Tesco could have on Belper’s small retailers.
Although no application has yet been submitted BATS has gained considerable public support and is preparing to fight the planning application when it is made. For further information see coverage in Belper News. To keep up momentum BATS has a stall in King Street (the main shopping street) on the 2nd Saturday of every month (to coincide with the Farmers’ Market), mainly for information purposes, and to let the public (members and non-members) know that BATS is still around and busy. BATS is also busy raising funds and printing banners and t-shirts. Members of BATS also conducted a survey about the effects on local traders of a new (Sainsburys) supermarket in nearby Matlock. The results supported BATS argument that a new supermarket in Belper would have detrimental impacts on local traders.
Belper is a small town with a pleasant high street and many small independent retailers. It is also a U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage site, by virtue of its industrial history, with much of this character retained within the town. Belper is also near the edge of the Peak District national park, with tourism is being promoted. The affected land borders the floodplain of the River Derwent, which is a beautiful spot, popular with walkers and well-used by local sports clubs.