It’s a listed (Grade II) building so the store will have to fit into it ‘sympathetically’. Not sure how that’s going to be achieved, and we won’t know until the planning application has been submitted, giving further details. Personally I’m reserving judgement until then.
If the conversion involves removing many of the building’s more impressive architectural details then clearly that should be opposed. But I wonder how many are left anyway, on the ground floor, where the shop would be. The building has been used by the local health authority in recent decades. Perhaps a lot of the interior features have already been removed, decades ago.
Also nearby, Tesco approaches …
Just opposite, across the junction, is the Punch Bowl pub, which, as previously discussed, Tesco is apparently keen to acquire. The plans are being strongly opposed by regulars at the pub, with a petition, and York CAMRA are also involved, but beyond that the wider community of the city doesn’t seem too concerned.
Not far away, over on Burton Stone Lane, the Corner House is to close very soon, 16th November. It will be a Tesco store, apparently. There’s been no massive public outcry, no campaign to save it. The locals perhaps care but the rest of the city doesn’t seem to.
Here’s a map of the existing Sainsbury’s stores in the area, and Groves Chapel in relation to those, and also the locations where Tesco is about to move in or wants to.
So the wider York community doesn’t seem to have been angered by Tesco wanting to set up shop on the sites of two pubs. Whereas the plans for Sainsbury’s to move into Groves Chapel have already provoked a number of angry comments on Twitter and elsewhere.
There’s already a petition against this, and it’s collecting signatures rapidly. When I discovered it first thing this morning it had 100 signatures. Now, early afternoon, it has almost 200.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why some buildings/plans/places capture the public imagination or provoke outrage and others don’t. Previously I was comparing the two pubs in this area under threat from Tesco and wondering why the regulars at one had campaigned against closure whereas the regulars at the other apparently hadn’t. Now we have, opposite one of them, Sainsbury’s wanting to set up shop in the Groves Chapel. And clearly in this case there’s far more opposition and anger from all over the place, not just the community nearby.
I just want to ask a few questions. I’m finding it all very interesting.
Why are people so outraged? Because it’s a former chapel? Is that somehow worse, more offensive? Why? It hasn’t been used as a place of worship for decades.
This building has outlived its usefulness as a chapel and more recently as a building used by the health authority. The local community haven’t been using it, most of us have never seen inside it. Should we keep it there empty and unused just so it looks nice from the outside? Except it doesn’t, it looks a bit scruffy and in need of investment and maintenance. Who’s going to pay for that if it isn’t refurbished and put to a new use?
Is it because it’s on a main thoroughfare rather than stuck out in a quieter residential area that it has become the focus of protest? Presumably so. Because it’s a landmark building, and more of us are familiar with it?
Is it because it’s another Sainsbury’s? Would it be better if it was, say, a Co-op store? I’d prefer that, personally, as there isn’t one in the area.
How many people objecting to the planned store live in the local area?
Perhaps the views of the people who live within walking distance should have more weight than the views of those living on the other side of town? Many comments I’m seeing online are from people who live nowhere near the building in question. I do live near it. And part of me wants to question whether people living miles away should be able to tell ‘us’, nearby, what supermarkets we should or shouldn’t welcome.
Where do the people who are objecting do their shopping? At one of the larger supermarkets perhaps, perhaps they drive there? Most of us do, after all, shop at the supermarkets, don’t we. But if you live near the city centre, and don’t own a car, these smaller supermarkets are very convenient.
Like it or not, they’re very good at what they do, aren’t they, Sainsbury’s, Tesco. Maybe some of us like to spend a lot of time shopping at different small food shops, searching out all locally-produced food from local businesses, but many of us don’t. Many of us want to grab the stuff we need as quickly as possible from a convenient local outlet where we know exactly what they’re going to have, where in the store it is, and where we know it will be of a standard quality. Not perhaps as nice as the veg on the market or the meat from the local butcher, but good enough. I guess many of us try to do both, but rely on the local mini-supermarkets particularly in the evening if we need a pint of milk. Personally I’m rather glad there are a couple within easy walking distance of my house.
I strongly oppose the idea of Tesco setting up shop on the site of the Punch Bowl pub opposite, for reasons previously mentioned. But most of the things that make that objectionable don’t apply here, in this large and apparently unused building across the road.
I’ve been compiling the pages on this website for a long time, and paying attention to what is happening (or not happening) to various historic buildings, listed or not, all over town and particularly in this area. Buildings like this can sit empty for years on end, many did. The most famous example of a long-empty building is the White Swan on Piccadilly. That development into residential accommodation also seems to have been possible only by the associated inclusion of a Sainsbury’s on the ground floor. Would we rather it was still sitting there rotting away?
Yes, it would be great if the old Groves Chapel could become some kind of community-focused cultural hub, maybe open as a venue, a dance hall, an indoor market. But it looks like that isn’t going to happen.
And it’s close to …
The hospital is right next to it, just across the lane/snicket of Bridge Lane. Many people on their way to the hospital, perhaps to visit relatives, will no doubt be glad of a shop they can pop into close by, a familiar store with all its usual stock. I imagine, because it would be so close to the hospital, that near the entrance will be a prominent display of bouquets of flowers, and magazines. And boxes of grapes.
Because, as we know, they’re good at what they do, and they know what we need/want. That’s why they’re so successful, and that’s presumably why they’re appearing all over the city where our pubs and chapels used to be.
. . . . .
If you want to add your signature to the petition, it’s on this link.