‘I don’t think I’m going to be very popular with this audience’, I admitted, at the start of my speech to the property retail sector (people who develop shops and shopping centres) at Claridges. ‘I don’t buy much stuff’ I continued, ‘and what I do buy I generally purchase through internet shopping’.
What I realise is that, if everyone shopped like me, retail development would stop in its tracks. As I explained to the audience, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I opened my speech describing the new Tesco supermarket being built in Ilminster. The site was apparently bought around 6 years ago and has been contentious ever since. I ran through some of the issues troubling local residents and traders such as: how will it affect existing businesses; will it fit in with the local vernacular; and what would houses across the valley think about looking onto an extensive white flat roof.
The real point of telling this story was not to protest on behalf of Ilminster but to give an example of something that is happening all over the country – and not just by Tescos. My view is that this sort of bog standard development should stop. Currrently there are only a few examples of state of the art environmental developments – but these should become the norm. We want energy-efficient buildings; green roofs (where plants – and even vegetables are grown on roof tops); day light lighting; water saving measures; solar panels; electric vehicles; innovative waste solutions; less building waste – and a whole host of other things too.
Of course, the key to getting good green developments is customer demand. Apparently the supermarket sector is beginning to feel this and consequently more of them are moving in the right direction. Surely, in PR terms alone, it would be better for companies like Tesco to be welcomed by local residents rather than vilified – even if they get plenty of customers when the store comes to town.