Barnstaple ‘sold to supermarkets’?

John Patt, pictured at his Gunn wholsesale premises, says he has had to close his town centre greengrocer shop because of the encroachment of supermarkets. John Patt, pictured at his Gunn wholsesale premises, says he has had to close his town centre greengrocer shop because of the encroachment of supermarkets.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
10:45 AM

Greengrocer John Patt says he is having to leave the town centre after more than 30 years.

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A BARNSTAPLE greengrocer has closed his Boutport Street shop after more than 30 years because he says local councils have ‘sold the town centre’ to supermarkets.

John Patt still has a shop in Newport Road plus others in Braunton and Torrington, but is closing the Boutport Street premises in the face of plans for a Tesco Express store in the centre of Barnstaple, together with potential Asda and Morrisons developments.

He has decided not to renew his long term lease on the town centre shop and staff there have been relocated to the wholesale part of the John Patt’s Ltd business at Gunn, which provides local produce to hotels and restaurants, as well as hospitals.

A poster in his former shop window tells customers: “We feel our greedy councils have totally sold our lovely market town to the money-grabbing supermarkets.

“It is totally obscene to allow so much development which has a devastating effect on local business and town centre shops.”

Mr Patt told the Gazette there were no plans for further closures, as the shop in Boutport Street had been the only leased premises.

But he said the situation was becoming ridiculous as Barnstaple was overrun with supermarkets.

“In other areas such as the east coast the councils will not allow them in the town centre,” he said.

“I don’t know where it is going, but I really fear for the future of the town centre in Barnstaple.

“People need to support their local shops too. If we don’t support our local growers and in turn ask people to support us, in five years time the growers will be no more.”

Kate Little, head of strategic development and planning for North Devon Council, which decides planning applications, said the council was always disappointed to see any store close:

“Barnstaple town centre is not unique in experiencing the effects of either the nationwide economic recession or the massive change in peoples’ lifestyles which has given rise to the increase of online shopping and multiple supermarkets,” she said.

“We will always do everything we can to ensure the High Street stays as viable as possible and it is our ambition to provide choice for consumers and to ensure the town centre evolves to meet the needs of the next generation.”

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