Co-op’s designs on East Wittering pub will be decided

The Royal Oak, East Wittering.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130058-1 Chi Royal Oak
The Royal Oak, East Wittering.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130058-1 Chi Royal Oak

DESIGNS for a supermarket on the site of a historic pub will be decided at a planning meeting this week.

Councillors will have the final say on whether The Royal Oak in East Wittering will be demolished to make way for a new Co-op store.

Planning officers at Chichester District Council have recommended approval for the plans, but it is the planning committee members who have the final say.

Many residents objected to the plans and set up a campaign group to save the pub, which has stood in the village for nearly 400 years.

But others were in support of a new Co-op store, and wrote to the council to put their weight behind the supermarket’s plans.

The council received 656 letters objecting to the plans and 274 letters in support of it.

East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council objected to the plans, saying the building would be ‘completely out of character for a seaside village’.

The parish council said as the building is the entrance to the village, the supermarket would set ‘the wrong tone’.

There were also concerns about noise impact and lorries delivering to the store, as well as the loss of footfall for independent shops in the village.

“There has been a considerable swell of feeling among the residents against losing the public house which currently stands on the site,” said the parish council in its objection.

But in the committee papers, it summarises the support letters, and said: “The pub is always deserted, run down and in need of renovation... a modern supermarket would be of much more value to the village.”

The Co-op had to jump through various hoops since the planning application was submitted in May, changing its plan several times, until planning officers were happy with it.

This included changes to the height, design and layout of the proposed building.

In the end the supermarket firm won the officers over, and the officer recommendation to the committee, said: “The potential loss of a public house is regrettable, but on the basis of the available evidence it is considered unlikely that 
a viable pub business at the site would be sustained in the long term.”

If the application is approved, the Co-op plans to move its current store on The Parade in East Wittering to the site of The Royal Oak.

The planning committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 8, from 10am at East Pallant House, Chichester. Members of the public are welcome to attend.