Tesco plan to use CCTV to remove free parking at Purley

Residents in Purley, Sanderstead, Kenley and beyond are asking for their neighbours to join with them in posting objections on the council’s online planning portal to Tesco’s application for permission to instal two ANPRs – automatic number plate recognition cameras – at their Purley superstore.

Tesco at Purley Cross want to drop the free parking that was a condition of their planning permission

The supermarket operators want to use the automated cameras to stop visitors to Purley town centre utilising their car park without charge – even though provision for this was one of the conditions of the planning permission they were granted by the council 34 years ago.

According to residents, “When Tesco were originally granted planning permission in 1987, there was a condition that they provided free parking for the public of up to three hours, to enable people to use other stores to shop in Purley, to attend the dentist, their doctors or hairdressers. This free element was regardless as to whether you went into the store or not.

“The Section 106 agreement, dated May 2000, reinforces that the previous planning applications – from 1994, 1998 and 1999 – that parking had to be free for the first three hours – so the public could park there for any other shopping in Purley.”

Now, Tesco want to deter people from using their car park, unless they spend at least £5 in the store.

Other Purley-based businesses were wary of a large superstore being opened on their doorsteps, with Tesco’s massive scale enabling to under-cut rivals’ prices and suck the life out of other businesses nearby. The parking concession was a way of easing those concerns. 

After more than a year of coping with lockdown, this removal of free parking is clearly the last thing that the shops and businesses in Purley town centre need.

According to one residents’ association, “This planning application is an attempt to alter the free element of the planning permission.

“If you don’t want this, please object by clicking on ‘make a comment’ at the top of the window that opens.”

For the council planning portal, and to lodge an objection, click here.

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11 Responses to Tesco plan to use CCTV to remove free parking at Purley

  1. Jim Bush says:

    The people bleating are probably all commuters using the Tesco car park to a free alternative to the Purley Station car park ?!

  2. D brown says:

    I am not surprised. Lots of flats going up with insufficient parking available.

  3. Chris Harding says:

    Perhaps the should use ANPRs to enforce the 3 hour time limit and nothing more. That I could understand.

  4. Paul M Ford says:

    The high street and central Purley have an underused council run multi-storey carpark right next to them. Yes, there’s a charge for use, but not extortionate. If you object to actually using Tesco’s store while using their car park, then you can exercise your free will by going there. And save yourself the walk. Given it’s part of the block containing a long-dead Sainsbury’s and a long-closed swimming pool, and is presumably owned by the council, you might even be helping to stave off any development plans Kerswell might be dreaming of. After all, if that land is bringing no money in to the cash-strapped council, nor providing any service, then they may well think of selling it to developers. Just saying…

  5. Lewis White says:

    D Brown and Paul M Ford make some pertinent comments above which relate not just to Tesco’s parking area, but to the issue of providing adequate parking for residents of new developments.

    Whilst it might well be true that there is a tendency for Millenials to postpone learning to drive and own a car, or never end up doing so, the fact is that we do need enough parking for residents of these new town centre developments.

    Paul mentioned the old Sainsbury’s site, the multi car park and the swimming pool which are (I hope) still in council ownership, and (I hope even more) not on the list of “Brick by Brick” sites for sale at bargain basement prices.

    The new Purley Tower , soon-to-rise on the even older Sainsbury’s site (aka the Purley Baptist Church / Island site) , will have a certain amount of parking in the basement.
    Let’s hope that it proves to be adequate for the new residents’ needs.

    If it isn’t, they will need somewhere to park. Is it not reasonable that Tesco’s car park be made available for them–at reasonable fee– for at least overnight parking. When the number of night-time Tesco customers takes up much less of the space needed for daytime customers

    Finding a place to park overnight must be a real source of daily stress for anyone in a town centre road or new block. Residents need parking–there has to be enough. This does not stop them having a bike nor using the bus or trains.

    So–please can the Council really think about provision for the new regenerating Purley. That means enough parking for the Swimming pool / ex Sainsbury and Multi storey site when it too, gets redeveloped.

    With regard to the Tesco Superstore……..

    3 hour free parking, with no obligation to spend?. That is entirely reasonable if it was in the original planning agreement. I preseume that it was meant to apply as long as the store exists ?

    A reasonable fee for staying longer seems …er…reasonable.

    My guess is that long term, Tesco will want to redevelop their store and have a roof top car park.
    Then, sell off a large chunk of the existing (huge) car park to a pension fund developer, or even develop their own development on the site.

    More blocks of flats. Starter homes, and retirement homes. All facilitated by Tesco mortgages. Cradle to grave, post welfare-state style.

    If I were a betting man I would put a bet on it.

    Regeneration and providing enough car parking for shoppers, businesses, and residents, is a real headache — but we need to be fair to existing and new residents, when it comes to parking . Not just in Purley, but in regenerating Coulsdon, and in fact, all the borough’s local centres.


  6. 34 years ago, when the parking deal was imposed on Tesco, most people weren’t aware of the damage to our air quality and climate caused by unfettered car use.

    Now we know differently. We’re in a climate emergency and we’re rapidly approaching a tipping point.

    If Tesco can persuade fewer people to drive to Purley, that will benefit our environment, cut local air pollution and reduce congestion.

    Every little helps, as they say.

    • But you know full well, Austen, that this is nothing to do with Tesco trying to reduce emissions from cars, and all about the company’s bottom line.
      Big, out-of-town supermarkets were built with the expressed aim of getting people to drive to them.
      As Paul Ford notes elsewhere in this thread, there is another car park in Purley town centre, a council-owned one. But increases in charges there may be one of the reasons motorists have started to use the three free hours in Tesco.
      So, a council which has made bold declarations of a climate emergency has used parking charges to disincentivise people using their cars, and now the cars are parking somewhere else instead.
      The businesses in Purley town centre are on their knees after the past year. Removing the 1987 planning concession from Tesco will do little to save the planet, but it could kill off what remains of the businesses in one district centre.

  7. Anthony Mills says:

    This is especially galling now that free on-road parking has been removed in Purley and elsewhere in the borough. Many small shops have suffered as a result. I no longer pop in to the small Sainsburys and look into Barnardos while I’m there. It might be thought reasonable to impose a charge after 3 hours except that the original section 106 agreement did not include that. It’s easy to spend more than 3 hours visiting the library, or the dentist, the post office, the charity shops, a shop at Tesco itself and have a coffee somewhere while you’re at it, the whole point of unlimited parking was and is to facilitate and encourage such use of the town. I’ve been there after midnight often enough – safest time lately – and there were very few cars parked indeed, if any are persistent overnight offenders it doesn’t need an ANPR camers, just a member of staff with a phone camera. As for a roof top car park, some may remember Tesco’s abortive attempt to install a 1st floor car park, constructed one Xmas without planning permission and forcibly removed a few months later.

  8. Derek Nicholls says:

    Tesco should be thankful that they were allowed to redevelop the old waterworks site into the superstore. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that the site should have been used principally for a suitable traffic gyratory system so as to enable the widening of the A23 between Coulsdon and Purley and the widening of the A22 as it approaches Purley, with the aim of reducing the traffic congestion on those roads and improving the quality of life. Tesco would be well-advised to leave things as they are.

  9. Lawrence Russsell says:

    Typical of large corporations take over an area or region, taking ownership of local resources and then charging the locals for the use of them. They should be paying us for the added pollution their huge store brings to the area. Big corporations need to remember their place in a community and the agreements they make for entering into a community with there business. The local businesses provide what we need already so we don’t even need tesco. They need us.

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