Re: Proposed Eastern District Centre development
I am writing on behalf of Truro Farmers Market to express our serious concerns about the proposed Eastern District Centre development on the outskirts of Truro that includes a proposed Taste of Cornwall and a Waitrose supermarket. We firmly believe this development will impact on the viability of our members and on the continuance of the Truro Farmers Market itself.
Contrary to the statements made publicly by Elwyn Jones, spokesman for Taste of Cornwall Ltd and, we believe repeated to your Planning Officers and the Planning Committee, the majority of trade for Truro Farmers Market does not originate from within Truro itself.
The clear, if not stated, implications given by Mr Jones are that the ‘out of town’ provision for the Taste of Cornwall and Waitrose will have minimal effect on the customer base of Truro Farmers Market. The reality is that the provision being sought for the development will have a significant adverse effect not only on the individual traders but on the Market as a whole. An independent survey undertaken on the same week as the initial Eastern District Centre consultation showed that over 70% of shoppers using Truro Farmers Market came from outside the city itself. In reality the catchment of Truro Farmers Market is a trade hinterland of some 52km radius, with the minority of customers coming from the city centre itself.
Like many small businesses we as traders operate within tight profit parameters, a small decrease in turnover can easily make the difference between a profit and loss, the difference between viability and going out of business.
Since its inception some twelve years ago, Truro Farmers Market has “become one of the Region’s success stories”, (Carol Trewin- Western Morning News). The Farmers Market was set up with the help of 5b and later Objective One funding to aid diversification in farming and provide support for small food producers. With the help of this initial funding and a lot of hard work Truro Farmers Market quickly became self sustaining and established itself as an integral element of the unique trading fabric of Truro.
This ‘success’ has created/sustained some 75 full time jobs, as well as a significant number of part time employment – the erection of stalls alone has been directly responsible for the creation of a new Cornish business employing five people.
A recent poll of traders showed that collectively Truro Farmers Market represents an annual turnover in excess of £1.5 million. Studies by Friends of the Earth, have shown that this is worth at least six million to the local economy (£1 spent locally is worth up to £4). This compares to supermarkets which studies have shown siphons up to 95% of their turnover away from the local area.
There is no doubt that our town stores have detrimental effects on other outlets in the retail hinterland – particularly the central place (principal town). This is very much intensified in rural areas. Evidence of this abounds – in Fakenham for example retailers experienced a 64% decline in turnover following an out of town shopping development and the number of empty shops rose by 33%. The Saxmunden region of Suffolk suffered an even worse decline following an out of town retail development with the closure of 67 retail outlets and a loss of 548 jobs in the region.
Many national stores have reacted to the criticism and government pressure to resist ‘out of town retailing’ by going for ‘edge of town’ development – such as the current proposal for the Eastern District Centre. This has an equally damaging effect: “the principal effect of the new edge of town shopping has been to divert trade from the town to edge of town“ (Government Office of Deputy Prime Minister).
Even supermarkets themselves have recognised this. A study by Somerfield reveals edge-of- town retail development reduced in-town shopping by 50%.
We would like therefore to register our concerns with you as, to date; we do not feel that they have been taken into account. The proposed development on the edge of Truro will profoundly affect the viability of Truro Farmers Market and, if Somerfield’s statistics are correct, we could be the first of many local businesses to be lost with the then consequential loss of local revenue and more importantly the loss of valuable local employment – 67 retail outlets and 548 jobs!! Why should Truro be any different from the known examples in the rest of the UK?
I trust that you will give the concerns of the Truro Farmers Market due consideration in this respect.
Market Chair, Bill Lugg
Letter sent to Cornwall Coucil