A community has reacted with outrage at plans which could threaten the existence of a popular parade of shops.
The Co-op revealed its plans to open at the Inn on the Green pub on the Parklands estate in Chichester, which is right next to The Ridgeway parade.
It is feared it would spell an end to 60 years of happy trading for the shops which co-exist because of covenants in place to ensure they do not step on eacother’s toes.
At a heated public meetingon the subject on Saturday, residents and traders joined forces in an overwhelming objection to the idea.
Owner of parade shop Costcutter, Peter Strong, said: “I am seriously concerned about it. It’s going to take away from my business, to what extent, I would not know until it happens.”
The meeting was organised by the Parklands Residents Association, after a near-record 230 objections were made against the alcohol licence application by the Co-op for the site.
More than 150 residents packed into St Wilfrid’s Church Hall to hear from the Co-op and new owner of the pub, Bacchus, which has also made plans to build homes on the Selsey Tram, in Donnington.
Mr Strong added: “The problem with it is these shops are all run on restricted leases which means we can only stock what we are allowed to.
“The Co-op could sell everything under one roof. That’s extremely unfair. And not only that, the system the council has set up has made this parade for 60 years.
“It’s been good for the parade. We have all worked with each other. That’s why it’s so popular, because it’s a real community parade.
Owner of the newsagents, Depen Chudasama, said: “I’m not happy with it, basically because it’s not fair. They can do anything they want, whereas all the other shops on the parade have covenants on them.”
As well as the Costcutter and newsagent, there is a butcher’s, chemist, betting shop, and a takeaway.
Other ideas suggested by members of the public were to have a community-run centre with a bar, a cafe area for teenagers, or to compromise with the Co-op, which would have the ground floor and use the second floor for community use.
Head of brand engagement and communication at Co-op, Ted Merdler, admitted at the meeting there would be an impact on the shops.
“There is no doubt there would be an effect on the other shops in the precinct,” he said.
“If this premises is not take on by Southern Co-operative, then Tesco may look at it, or another retailer may look at it. We are one of several which could be there.
“We don’t want to go out of our way to close shops. If they offered it to another retailer, they probably would not come here to talk to you.”
A show of hands revealed four people were in favour of it, 14 were neither for or against, and the rest were against.
The meeting was told that no deal had yet been signed between Bacchus and the Co-op, as this would happen on the granting of a licence.
The Co-op said it would not open at the site without a licence.
It is thought the application will be heard by Chichester District Council’s licensing committee next month.