Saturday, 21 July 2018

Tesco withdraws store plan... but not for long

TESCO has scrapped its plan to open a shop at a disused village pub... for now.

TESCO has scrapped its plan to open a shop at a disused village pub... for now.

The supermarket chain has withdrawn its application for planning permission to convert the former Queen’s Arms in Goring into an Express convenience store.

But the Henley Standard can reveal that the company is to submit a new, more detailed plan to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Residents opposed to the proposal say they will continue campaigning.

Tesco first applied for planing permission in December and this was granted on appeal in May after the district council refused to make a decision. However, Tesco also wanted to extend the property and the inspector did not address this so the company could not proceed.

Now it is preparing to submit a new application that includes all its proposed changes.

The pub in Reading Road, which was owned by Greene King, shut in summer 2013 and Tesco bought it a few months later. The shop plan sparked protest from villagers who said it threatened Goring’s independent businesses and that the site was unsuitable due to the narrow pavement.

Goring Parish Council recommended the company’s application was rejected on road safety grounds but the district council refused to determine it after taking legal advice.

Rob Jones, chairman of protest group Stop Tesco in Goring, said: “We welcome the fact that they have withdrawn this application but condemn the fact that they’re still pressing ahead with their plans.

“We urge them to do as they have done with their portfolios elsewhere and allow the site to be developed for housing, which is badly needed in Goring.

“We are glad that, with a full application, issues such as highway safety will have a bearing on the decision whereas they did not for the minor works.

“Tesco always wanted to avoid discussion of that issue but now we can formally challenge them on grounds that were previously unavailable to us.

“I imagine they will re-apply nearer Christmas in the hope of getting it through while no one’s paying attention.”

Parish councillor Emrhys Barrell said: “The penny seems to have finally dropped that Tesco can’t build on the area they wanted.

“We’ve achieved what we were aiming for in that the important issues surrounding this application will finally be discussed and scrutinised.

“I believe we have a very strong case against it. I walk past the site every week and the pavement is suicide â?? it’s the wrong place for a focal point in the village.”

Tesco didn’t need permission for a change of use as the conversion would be “permitted development”.

However, it needed consent for “minor works” such as signage, car parking and a new service yard with cold storage.

It applied for these but the blueprints showed it also intended to extend the shop floor to 2,830 sq ft, an increase of about 40 per cent, which did require permission.

Shortly before selling up, Greene King was given the go-ahead for a smaller extension on condition that it was used as a pub or restaurant.

Tesco says it is “confident” that an Express store would be popular in Goring and it would build a new pedestrian crossing on Gatehampton Road.

A company spokesman declined to comment.

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