Pattaya Daily News

28 February 2013 :: 10:02:53 am 72404

City fathers move to cramp Phuket Tesco plans

Following a year of intermittent local protests over the proposed Tesco-Lotus complex planned for Bangkok Rd, Phuket City Municipality is aiming to bring in a local bylaw that would limit the size of any retail operation in the city to 300 square metres.
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PHUKET – Febuary 27,2013; The original plan for the Tesco outlet envisaged buildings covering a total of 15,950 square metres. However, an existing national law already limits such buildings in certain areas, including inner Phuket City, to a maximum of 1,000 square metres.

However, local residents and retailers who oppose the project were still worried that even this amount of space would allow Tesco to set up in Bangkok Rd. This, they argue, would affect local life and damage existing local business, and also cause heavy traffic jams in the narrow streets of the city.

“The new bylaw is under the process,” Deputy Mayor Thavorn Jirapattanasophon told The Phuket News. “Next month we will hold a public hearing and then send the request for approval of the bylaw to the central government.”

The 300 square metres stipulated in the new bylaw would cover only the Tesco retail-wholesale area, not the parking area, nor other part of a mall such as restaurants, beauty salons or a cinema.

The Deputy Mayor said that consideration was given to applying for a ministerial regulation to limit the size of stores in the town, but that this would have conflicted with the country’s laws on free trade.

“If the main law limits the size of wholesale-retail complex [through a ministerial regulation], it would affect the economy.”

Mr Thavorn said the bylaw would limit stores anywhere in the city to no more than 300 square metres – the size of a Tesco Express convenience store. It would not apply outside the city. This, the bylaw’s proponents hope, will persuade Tesco to go somewhere else on the island.

But he said he was still not sure whether Tesco would back away or reduce the scale of their plans.

No comment could be obtained from Tesco-Lotus headquarters in Bangok, but an expert on these matters said that size was not a problem.

For example, he said, the large Tesco store in Thalang “is not a hypermarket. Look over the door – it says ‘department store’.”

The Tesco store is constrained by the 1,000-square-metre rule, so it is broken into separate sections, or departments, none of them more than 1,000 square metres, and each with a separate till. This allows it to conform to the rules.

He felt that the greatest difficulty for Tesco might be in obtaining planning permission – this has to come from the Phuket City Municipality, which now appears to be firmly on the side of the opponents.

View the original story on The Phuket news here.

Category : Thailand News

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