Supermarket snaps up empty pub
TRADERS in Portishead are up in arms over news a redundant pub in the town is to be turned into a Tesco Express store.
The retail giant confirmed this week it has signed a lease on the former Royal Oak pub with owners Enterprise Inns and plans to open the store in the New Year.
Because the pub is classed as a retail business, no change of use planning permission is needed.
It is likely the store will open from either 6am to 10pm or 7am to 11pm, seven days a week and create 20 new jobs.
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Local traders are vowing to fight all the way to stop Tesco opening, saying the new store will decimate their business.
Currently there is a Costcutter supermarket at West Hill along with a number of takeaways, hairdressers, chemist and motor parts store.
Businessman Icy Patel, who has run the Costcutter supermarket at West Hill for five years, said: "If a Tesco Express opens in the pub it will decimate the trade of other local business.
"I have invested every penny I have in this shop over the last five years and I am very concerned about the impact a Tesco Express will have on my business.
"No planning application has been submitted for the supermarket and it seems as if, because it used to be a pub, none is needed. I will fight all the way to stop this store from opening and have already been speaking with local residents and councillors."
Local councillors have also raised concerns at news Tesco Express is to open.
Councillor Ros Cruse, who has lived at West Hill for 41 years, said: "I would hate to see the opening of a Tesco Express at West Hill result in the demise of other local shops, many of which have served the local community well for a number of years.
"It seems to be a nationwide issue of Tesco moving in and taking over redundant pubs."
Councillor David Jolley said: "I do not see why Tesco has chosen to open within 50 yards of existing shops when there are retail units on the marina where a store would be more appropriate."
Although a change of use planning application is not needed, a minor works application will be submitted to North Somerset Council for consent to install a cash machine, signs and the like.
Tesco representatives have already spoken to traders, councillors and residents in the West Hill area and said further meetings are planned.
Details of the new store are due to be presented to Portishead Town Council in the coming weeks.
Tesco has already opened Express stores in redundant pubs in Bristol and say they are amongst their most popular outlets, serving between 6,000 and 8,000 customers a week.
The firm said the new store would not directly compete with existing retail units in the area and would increase footfall to West Hill.
Tesco corporate affairs manager Sophie Akokhia said: "We would like to regenerate The Royal Oak on West Hill.
"This will offer a small convenience store with a wide range of fresh produce and essential items.
"We are also committed to creating 20 new jobs that will be prioritised for local people."
Tesco has also prompted outcry in Weston-super-Mare after announcing similar plans to turn the Bristol House pub in Milton into an Express store. The move has prompted local residents to collect a 2,600 name petition against the proposals.