Saturday, 28 November 2020

Tesco tries again to convert pub into shop

TESCO has submitted a second application to convert a disused village pub into a shop.

TESCO has submitted a second application to convert a disused village pub into a shop.

The supermarket chain wants planning permission for an Express convenience store at the former Queen’s Arms in Reading Road, Goring, which it bought from Greene King after the pub closed in 2013.

The move will upset many villagers who opposed the company’s previous attempts to carry out the redevelopment, saying it would affect trade at the village’s existing shops.

Tesco already has consent for “minor works” such as signage, cold storage and a new service yard, and doesn’t need permission for the conversion as the uses are both commercial.

However, it wants to extend the building in order to create a 2,830 sq ft shop floor and needs permission from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Tesco wants to create 14 parking spaces on the old pub forecourt, including one for disabled shoppers.

There would also be bicycle parking plus a simple pedestrian crossing with dropped kerbs in Gatehampton Road, immediately south of the junction of Reading Road and Wallingford Road.

The store would be open every day from 6am to 11pm.

There would be three or four deliveries a day in 8.4m long lorries. Tesco says they would enter and exit the site in an “efficiently managed” way under staff supervision rather than parking at the kerb.

At peak times there would be 139 daily vehicle movements on the site instead of 25 for the pub.

Tesco’s plans were first revealed by the Henley Standard in 2013, prompting opposition from villagers and independent traders concerned about the threat to their livelihoods.

A Goring Gap Business Network survey showed local opinion was split, with 57 per cent of people against the scheme and 40 per cent in favour. Tesco submitted its minor works application in 2014 but the district council refused to consider it because it included the extension plans.

Goring Parish Council opposed the application, saying the scheme was dangerous due to nearby pavements being narrow and pedestrians having to cross Gatehampton Road.

The application was approved after Tesco appealed last year.

The company’s agent CgMs says: “The Express will re-use a building in a poor state which adds little to the wider street scene... it will provide job opportunities and Tesco will employ from the local area where possible.”

It says the site is brownfield land which “does not make a positive contribution to the area, either visually or environmentally” and insists no other location is suitable.

The scheme “would be an effective use of an underutilised space and would facilitate further investment and consumer choice”. CgMs say it is unnecessary to consider the impact on existing businesses because this is not legally required for developments under 27,000 sq ft.

It says the store would “reduce the need to travel by private vehicle” and stimulate competition between retailers to the benefit of residents while creating up to 25 jobs.

Tesco says there is no evidence of a road safety issue as there have been only six accidents near the site since 1979.

But Rob Jones, of the Stop Tesco in Goring campaign, said the application was “misleading” because Tesco often sent larger trucks to Express stores than it had promised.

He said: “If Tesco gets permission, it will ride roughshod over the community and use whichever vehicles are most convenient. It won’t go out of the way to provide smaller lorries just for Goring.

“The core issue has not changed. A store in that location would be unsafe and suck trade from the village centre.”

Goring Parish Council will discuss the application next month. The district council is inviting comments until February 17.

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