Sunday, 13 June 2021

Campaign to explain concerns over Tesco store

A PRESSURE group fighting Tesco’s plans to open a store in Goring will host an exhibition at the village hall

A PRESSURE group fighting Tesco’s plans to open a store in Goring will host an exhibition at the village hall tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to noon.

Stop Tesco In Goring will outline its concerns over the retailer’s plans for an Express convenience store at the former Queen’s Arms pub.

The group believes delivery lorries will struggle to access the site in Reading Road so the drivers will park on the street, causing a hazard for pedestrians and motorists.

It has built a scale model of the site and surrounding roads and will encourage visitors to park a remote controlled lorry on it, saying this will illustrate the problem. Anyone who completes the task will win a prize.

The group says it spent a day watching lorry drivers delivering to a Tesco Express in Burghfield Common that used to be a pub. It says some parked on the street and others manoevred without a banksman, which goes against that store’s planning conditions.

Group spokesman Emrhys Barrell said: “Since Tesco have clearly ignored their own procedures in the past, there is every likelihood that they will adopt the same unsafe procedures at Goring.”

The group says the premises would be an ideal location for six affordable homes so has also built a scale model of its alternative vision.

Under current housing targets, Goring must find space for 105 new homes by 2027.

Mr Barrell said: “It has been six months since we talked to residents so we wanted to update them on the situation. We also want to remind them that we aren’t just a ‘negative’ group — we have a constructive idea of how the site could be used. Goring needs affordable housing so that would be the perfect location for starter homes as it’s next to the station.”

Tesco took over the pub in 2013 and submitted a planning application to convert it in May last year. This is now the subject of a planning appeal.

Full planning permission is not required to convert pubs into shops so the company only sought consent for minor works like signage but South Oxfordshire District Council says Tesco’s plan would extend the premises, which does need permission.

Tesco’s opponents want the Planning Inspectorate to decide the appeal with a public hearing in the village, which it is considering.

Meanwhile, the retailer has submitted a second, identical planning application to the district council.

Tesco says it has commissioned studies which show the site can be accessed by delivery lorries. It says it will use smaller rigid trucks rather than articulated lorries and these will not have problems getting in and out.

On Thursday last week, the company announced it was closing 43 “unprofitable” branches and abandoning plans to open a further 49 in a bid to cut £250 million in costs.

A spokesman said the cuts would not affect its intentions for Goring.

Tesco says it is “confident” that a store in the village would be popular and it has spoken to many residents who support it.

Last year, the Goring Gap Business Network carried out a survey in which 169 of 298 respondents, or 57 per cent, opposed the scheme.

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