Chain Store Massacre
Who is best to write to to raise concerns about the opening of Nando’s and Frankie & Benny’s in Greenwich? The council, a planning team, Greenwich Hospital estate? Do you know? I want to do what I can to object to any more chain/big name brands opening up in the area.
The Phantom replies:
Matt, you are one of a number of people who are quite upset at our getting a pair of chains as the first thing people see when they arrive at Greenwich Pier on the boat. And I have to say I’m particularly un-jazzed about the signs, especially, which I feel cheapen the traditional view of Greenwich from Island Gardens (actually, I have a bit of a bag-on for the whole pier building with its nasty fake copper finish and…no, I promise not to go off on one about that today…)
Thing is, though, I’m not convinced that it’s possible for the council to refuse permission to a company just because they’re a chain – it would be discrimination of a sort and I can’t see that it’s legally enforceable to refuse one place that serves food because you don’t like the cut of their jib and allow another establishment that also serves food to open in the same place instead just because they’re a nice local indie. Hell – if we could do that we’d have booted out a hell of a lot of very bad restaurants in the centre of town by now and replaced them with lovely places that sell decent food.
Until I am the Phantom Despot of Greenwich Towne, and I can decree that henceforth only shops and eateries I like are allowed to trade, I suspect I have two choices. The first is to make it clear to places like Greenwich Hospital and whoever owns the pier (‘m not sure who that is…) that I want to encourage indies to flourish rather than to ban chains which would be legally hard.
With gardening if you encourage enough nice flowers the weeds don’t get a look in. Independents need to be allowed the space and time to grow, and not to feel that they are being leant on all the time by landlords who would rather have the big, reliable bucks they can get from multinationals.
The second is simple – don’t go to the chains and do go to the indies. This is, admittedly, harder, given that most of the chains’ trade is from tourists who often head for what they know – but if the indies look good and enough locals are seen going inside them, hopefully visitors will be intrigued to visit them too.
I agree – we need to be vocal on this and let big landlords – Greenwich Hospital Trust being the biggest in the town centre – know that we want one of the last remaining largely-independent shopping centres to stay that way. Whether it will have any effect will be interesting, of course. Ultimately GHT is answerable to its trustees, whose aim in life is to get the most cash for their charity, not to us who just live in the place they own.
Thanks to Paul for the pic, BTW…
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