Shopkeepers’ anger at new Tesco store in Whitechapel
A group of incensed shopkeepers and a local councillor are opposing supermarket giant Tesco’s decision to open a new store in Whitechapel.
Building work has already begun on a new Tesco Metro store in busy Fieldgate Street behind the East London Mosque, part of a �19.3 million development including student accommodation.
But Shahed Ali, a Labour councillor for Whitechapel, has circulated a petition to residents and shopkeepers in nearby streets protesting the move.
He argues that a new store isn’t wanted because it would be just 130 yards from an existing Tesco Express in Whitechapel Road.
He said: “My initial response was shock.
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“People are concerned the store will put existing small retailers out of business and undermine the area’s friendly community where shops double up as meeting points.”
Kabir Ahmed, owner of the Bangla Superstore on the corner of nearby Myrdle Street and Fordham Street, has joined the councillor’s campaign.
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The shopkeeper, who has worked in the area for 41 years, said: “When I heard about the development, I thought you could have ten shops there.
“You could have a small Polish shop, a small Somali shop, it would be good for local people.”
A council development committee approved the site for 12,333 sq. ft. of retail use in July 2008 and for 103,690 sq. ft. of student accommodation, including 339 bedrooms.
Mr Ahmed said: “Even if Tesco have planning permission, it’s still not too late.
“They could do their business somewhere else.”
Sulaiman Uddin, 55, owner of the East End Halal store in Fordham Street, said: “It’s not good for me.
“Tesco can sell everything and if they start to do that here, what am I supposed to do.”
The development, led by Fieldgate Street Investment, will also lead to the removal of three permit holder parking spaces from Fieldgate Street to be replaced by double yellow lines.
The council said two spaces would be provided in Greenfield Road.
Cllr Ali said: “What disgusts me even more is that the local council is attempting to get rid of residents’ parking bays.”
The development is scheduled to be finished by early 2012.
Tesco said their store would employ around 80 people but couldn’t say when they planned to open it.
A spokeswoman said: “We always do extensive research to determine whether there is a need for a store and the most appropriate type of format for an area.”