Time for change as second pub becomes store
RESIDENTS petitioning against a new Tesco store, which they say will ruin local trade, have now learned a new Co-op is also due to open in their road – just 500ft away.
Around 800 residents living in and around Bell Hill Road, St George, signed the petition to stop a Tesco Express store opening in the former Bell pub, as previously reported in the Evening Post.
But now they have been told a new Co-op is also due to open in a former pub – just 500ft away from the planned Tesco.
Householders started the Tesco petition after feeling the shop was not needed and would kill off local trade.
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But the supermarket-chain told the Post the convenience store was the "final element" in bringing the Bell back into use and helping to overcome anti-social behaviour issues that have impacted the community in the past.
And now the Southern Co-operative is due to move into the former Lord Rodney pub just a short way up the road.
But the group, which owns 120 stores in the South of England, says the situation at the Lord Rodney is different and says that it will offer a "genuine regional alternative to these big national chains".
Many residents are baffled by the news – and have been left resigned to the fact the pubs will be turned into shops after realising the supermarket chains do not need to apply for change of use planning permission.
Kelvin Starr, 55, who lives in Bell Hill Road, said: "The whole situation seems really strange to me.
"The two pubs are only about 500ft apart. It seems odd putting two supermarkets in an area that small.
"They don't need to apply for change of use so there's not a lot we can do about it really.
"At a meeting we had with Tesco they told residents it would be good for the area but I definitely don't believe that – it will mean more local shops, like the newsagents, will probably have to shut down."
Ted Merdler from The Southern Co-operative told the Post: "Many of the pubs that have been closed by their owners because they are no longer viable have been obtained by the big national grocery chains for use as convenience stores.
"The situation at the Lord Rodney is different. The developer who acquired the pub first applied for planning consent in September 2010.
"The Southern Co-operative has been able to secure the site and will offer a genuine regional alternative to these big national chains.
"The Southern Co-operative is an independent regional co-operative trading only in the south of England. We are entirely owned by our customer members and those who work for us, all of whom elect our board of directors.
"Being smaller, we pride ourselves in supporting the communities adjacent to our stores, both financially, and with help in kind for very local good causes through our colleague volunteering programme.
"The planning permission granted on the Lord Rodney site is for a convenience store designed to allow local people in the immediate vicinity to top up on their everyday needs close to home that most people will be able to reach on foot.
"As such, it will provide an alternative to travelling more frequently to larger superstores, saving time and reducing car journeys.
"Around 20, mainly part time, jobs will be created for local people."
Tesco agreed a lease on the former Bell pub just before Christmas and an application for works on the shop's frontage, signage and cash machine has been submitted to Bristol City Council and is currently pending consideration.
A spokeswoman told the Post the shop would sell different products to other shops in the road, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and freezer food.
She said the store would also open longer on Sundays and would create about 20 new jobs for local people.