BREAKING NEWS: Co-op wins East Wittering pub battle

The Royal Oak pub as it is now
The Royal Oak pub as it is now

A SUPERMARKET has been given permission to demolish an historic pub and build a modern supermarket in its place.

At a Chichester District Council planning committee meeting today (January 8), councillors approved the plans for The Royal Oak in East Wittering.

The committee heard the move could have ‘a devastating effect’ on a seaside village, from one objector.

Hundreds of residents objected to the plan, as they said the larger supermarket would harm independent shops, and claimed The Royal Oak is the gateway to the village.

Robert Harden, who represented campaign group Save Our Village, said the pub ‘retains the spirit of the village’.

East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council chairman Sylvia Main told councillors the planned HGV laybay outside the store was ‘a recipe for disaster’.

She said the road is frequently used by elderly residents and schoolchildren whose ‘traffic awareness is poor’.

Sitting on the committee, Graeme Barrett, said he was concerned by the amount of mistakes made in the Co-op’s application, including road names and references to another Co-op development in the Isle of Wight.

“The author has no idea where East Wittering is,” he said.

Other concerns from councillors included deliveries outside the store, noise pollution, and the free car-park which would effect the council’s parking income.

The council officers recommended approval for the application, as they said the pub was not ‘a viable business’ and it would extend the ‘shopping offer’ to residents.

But several councillors sitting on the committee were opposed to the development, and were concerned about other shops in the village.

Councillor John Elliott told officers: “You have to be a little bit more human about the way you’re considering this.”

The agent for the Co-op, Mr McFarland, told the committee the firm was ‘investing in East Wittering’.

He said a bigger Co-op store would bring economic benefits to the village, as well as more jobs for local people.

The pub has been shut since New Year’s Day, after the tenant was served notice to quit.