Sunday, 17 December 2017

Tesco wins permission for new shop despite protests

TESCO has been granted planning permission for a new branch in Goring.

TESCO has been granted planning permission for a new branch in Goring.

The supermarket chain has won its appeal to convert the former Queen’s Arms in Reading Road into a convenience store.

But the issue of extending the site has still not been resolved and campaigners who have fought the plans claim that without a resolution the store would be unviable.

A year ago, Tesco applied to South Oxfordshire District Council for permission for “minor works” including new signage and a new service yard. It wanted a 2,830 sq ft shop floor plus parking for 14 cars and 150 sq ft of cold storage.

The council refused to make a decision, saying the floor space would increase by about 40 per cent. It advised the company to apply for full planning permission, including for a change of use.



Greene King, which sold the pub to Tesco, had permission to extend the premises but only by about 30 per cent and on the condition that the business continued as a pub.

Tesco appealed against the council’s refusal to decide and now planning inspector Kenneth Stone has authorised the minor works.

However, he did not comment on the proposed extension because it was not covered by the disputed applications.

In his appeal decision, Mr Stone said the extension was not an issue he had to address, adding: “I have considered each of the proposals on the basis of the existing building as I saw on my site visit.”

The minor works include removing the entrance canopy on Reading Road and replacing it with new entrance doors, an extra window and a fire escape on Gatehampton Road. Tesco also wants to build two free-standing chiller rooms screened by a 2m fence and to erect a hanging sign in the style of the old pub sign.

Mr Stone said these would not “significantly” change the character of the area nor cause noise or other disturbance for neighbours.

His decision means Tesco can now open a store with a smaller floor space but if it builds according to its original plans the district council could take enforcement action.

Rob Jones, chairman of campaign group Stop Tesco in Goring, said: “This decision is disappointing but is also extremely limiting for Tesco.

“We don’t believe it would be viable for them to open a shop there until the outstanding issue of the extension is resolved.

“The district council has long stated that a shop would be unacceptable on the part of the site that is subject to an extension and we hope it will continue to take a robust view of the matter.”

The Queen’s Arms shut in autumn 2013 and Tesco signed a lease on the property a few days afterwards. When the Henley Standard broke news of its plans, residents launched the campaign group and organised a protest petition which more than 2,000 people signed. Goring Parish Council also opposed the plans.

Opponents claim the store would threaten the village’s independent businesses and the location is dangerous for pedestrians.

Stop Tesco in Goring has applied for the pub to be designated an asset of community value, which the district council is considering.

If this succeeds, Tesco will no longer have the automatic right to convert it into a shop. Instead, it will need full planning permission.

The district council will decide the application by the end of June and Tesco is not permitted to use the building as a shop before then.

A spokesman said: "We maintain the view that the extension to the public house can only be implemented if it is carried out exactly in accordance with the approved plans."

Tesco has said it is “confident” that a store will prove popular in Goring.



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