Your article about the Southern Co-operative’s plans to demolish the Royal Oak pub in East Wittering and replace it with a bigger Co-op store gives the rather misleading impression that the whole thing is a fait accompli.
So far these plans are in the very early stages.
The Co-op has not submitted them yet to the planning department and so the processes of consultation have not taken place.
Many in East Wittering are unhappy about the impact this much larger store will have on the village.
We are unique in that we have a thriving village centre with many small shops and cafes which include two butchers, two bakers, two greengrocers, a fish shop and a newsagents, as well as some other general shops, in addition to the Tesco Express and the existing Co-op store which was refurbished in April 2011.
It is very doubtful that all of these small shops will be able to survive the competition from a large supermarket.
Blakes, the third-largest shop in the village centre, has closed down after struggling for some years.
The existing Co-op store has the largest floor space and it is hard to imagine what it could be used for.
It would be tragic if our village centre ended up with empty shops, as so many have, just because supermarkets want to get bigger.
The new plans have all the delivery trucks offloading their goods in a lay-by at the village entrance and then driving through the parade, which will be a traffic hazard in an already-busy village centre.
Much has been said by the Co-op and the brewery about the fact the Royal Oak is no longer viable as a pub.
The fact is the brewery has invested a minimal amount in it.
If it had come on the open market it is possible someone might have seen its potential and renovated it properly to provide the village with much needed pub/hotel accommodation.
We hope when the plans are formally submitted, local people who are concerned will make their feelings known to the planning authorities.