CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a village pub have urged residents to join them and object to a supermarket’s plans.
The Southern Co-operative owns The Royal Oak pub in East Wittering, and wants to demolish the building to make way for a supermarket on the site.
But a group of villagers who have started the Save Our Village campaign called for residents to object to the plan, which was submitted to Chichester District Council this month.
At a meeting in the pub on Thursday, campaigner Stuart Campbell said: “It’s not just about the pub, it’s about what it will do to our village.
“It is the shops that are going to suffer. We see these towns with supermarkets and they’re boarded up – they’re blank.”
East Wittering has a Co-op store on the main high street, but the Co-op wants to move it to the site of the pub, in order to expand.
Store manager Kelly Hinshelwood said: “We simply don’t have enough space to meet local demand.
“A new store will give us more space so that we can offer a bigger range of products, especially fresh and local food, and will ensure that we can offer a much better service, including improved parking facilities”.
But the Save Our Village group is worried a bigger Co-op will kill off the remaining independent shops in East Wittering.
Not only that, but the group wants the historic building to be saved – and villagers at the meeting suggested a bed and breakfast would be a good alternative to a supermarket.
The building is estimated to be at least 300 years old.
Other villagers were concerned about lorries coming into the village, and the allocated loading bay being too close to the school.
Several objection letters have already been submitted to the council, but East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council is yet to have its say.
Ted Merdler, head of brand engagement for the Southern Co-operative, spoke to 400 residents at a consultation several months ago.
“Many people, including our current customers, were in favour of the proposal, but some people were disappointed that Enterprise Inns had decided to close the pub and sell it as a site for possible redevelopment,” he said.
At the consultation, representatives from the Co-op said the car park could be used for the benefit of the whole village, not just the supermarket, and there would be no charge for using the car park.
The new store would also create ten to 25 new jobs.
To view the plans, visit www.pawam.chichester.gov.uk with the reference 13/01493/FUL.
The deadline to comment is today.