Tower Hamlets tops list for new supermarkets

EIGHT new supermarket stores were granted permission to build in Tower Hamlets over the past two years – the highest figure in London.

The borough had almost three times the capital’s average for new supermarkets opening between November 2008 and November this year, research by the BBC showed.

The ‘big four’ - Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – opened 88 new stores between them on London streets.

A backlash against the big brands muscling in on East End high streets has been felt in recent months.

Shahed Ali, Labour councillor for Whitechapel, is spearheaded a campaign to prevent a new Tesco opening in Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel.

He said: “Everywhere these chains have opened up it’s meant the closure of small business. We’ve seen it happen already.

“It’s not just people’s livelihoods, small shops are useful to the community network. People get to know their shop keeper and it acts a meeting hub for local people. Tesco is more mechanical – you can see a different person every day.”

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Building work on the Tesco has already begun and store is set to be finished by early 2012.

Tesco said it carries out “extensive research” to see whether there is a need for one of its stores.

Tower Hamlets council said: “Supermarkets often invigorate local business by acting as an anchor. Not only do supermarkets complement street markets by providing customers with a greater choice, they also generate substantial foot traffic. Roman Road Market took some time to bounce back following the loss of their supermarket two years ago.

“We are proud to host more street markets than any other borough in London. The borough also has a thriving network of independent retailers catering for all tastes. Just last month the Council launched its latest edition of the Quirky Shopping, a booklet showcasing independent retailers.

“In Tower Hamlets there are also a number of large retailers however each planning application is judged based on its merits and careful consideration is given to how these stores may impact local businesses. “

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