Busy Kent Tesco set for expansion, full refurb and new products including clothing

Tesco Pembury in Tunbridge Wells wants to have night-time deliveries
-Credit: (Image: Google Streetview)

Tesco has plans to expand one of its Kent supermarkets which "significantly overtrades". The supermarket chain wants to build two extensions and carry out a full refurbishment of the store, partly based on customer feedback.

The out-of-town store is "extremely well frequented" said Tesco which wants to give its customers "greater choice". Its proposals would see new lines introduced including clothing.

As well as adding more things to buy and changing the layout inside, Tesco wants to create more parking at the Tesco Pembury, accessed off the A264, in Tunbridge Wells.

It also wants permission for an extension for the back of house operations such as fridges and freezers, which would see fewer deliveries as more stock could be stored on site. In its application just submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, it said: "The proposal has been designed to address overtrading and improve the overall environment for customers."

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"It is simply designed to provide a better customer offer to existing customers rather than having the effect of attracting significant numbers of new customers to the store. The proposals will not therefore lead to a significant increase in the number of additional new trips."

It also said: "The proposal will deliver significant benefits, providing a better store and customer experience, enhancing the quality of environment for staff and improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of the store."

The first extension will create more floor space for clothing and other ranges will be "improved", including home goods, toiletries and crockery. The second extension will simply create a more efficient and effective area behind the scenes.

Neither extension is higher than the existing store, said Tesco. The changes will not affect the pedestrian and cycle link from the High Street, the documents said. Ten EV charging points will be added.

Tesco in Pembury in Tunbridge Wells is set for revamp
Tesco in Pembury in Tunbridge Wells is set for revamp -Credit:Kent Live

Tesco on the impact on local shops

With regard to whether or not clothing being introduced at Tesco would harm local shops, the company said: "The Tesco store performs a vital role in providing choice to local residents alongside those independent shops and services within the High Street."

"There is currently no clothing shop within the High Street, other than a charity shop, and thus the provision of a small clothing range within the store will benefit those local residents who are looking to buy essential clothing items alongside their weekly shop.

"Although the (council's in 2021) Retail Study update does not identify a particular comparison goods capacity, the provision of a small clothing section within the store will complement the main store, it is not a competing element and will help to support the functions of the store."

And speaking about other places selling food or snacks, it said: "The other convenience provision within the High Street comprises a small newsagents along with a Morrisons daily located within the Esso Petrol Station."

"The Tesco thus offering a greater choice and provision than within these more specialist units, one primarily serving petrol station customers and the other providing a small offering of essential items."

Park and ride mentioned in papers

Tesco Pembury, which is accessed off the main A264 Pembury Road which leads to Tunbridge Wells town centre, opened in 2000. Planning permission had been secured at appeal two years earlier. This permission included a 580 space park and ride facility.

There is an interesting part in the planning papers about the park and ride, a subject which is often brought up in discussions about congestion across Tunbridge Wells. Tesco explains that in 2012 planning permission for a replacement supermarket and park and ride was granted by the council. This would have tripled the scale, more or less, of the Tesco Pembury.

So the enlarged building and parking could be accommodated, the park and ride facility had reduced to 320 spaces, from the earlier 580. Tesco states in its current papers: "Whilst that permission was not builtout, the permission was nonetheless implemented and the planning permission saved. It is thus an extant consent."

"Extant consent" means the permission still stands. As KentLive previously reported, a planning application for a motor village to the southern part of the site by Hendy was rejected by the council.

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