Congleton pub regulars lose out in Tesco fight
RESIDENTS have lost their fight to prevent a pub being turned into a Tesco Express.
Councillors approved plans for the Waggon and Horses, in Congleton, during a meeting yesterday.
It brought to an end a long-running battle to block the proposals, which had seen landlady Annette Townley collect more than 1,000 names on a petition.
Congleton town councillor Gordon Baxendale, who had argued against the development of a convenience store on the site, said he was 'disappointed but not surprised' at the decision.
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The application from Marston's included plans for an extension, refrigerating equipment, air conditioning and an ATM machine.
However, planning permission to change the use of the site from a pub to a store was not required.
Speaking on behalf of Councillor Roland Domleo at the meeting, Mr Baxendale said: "I am amazed and appalled that planning permission is not needed to turn a public house into a shop."
Councillor Domleo objected to the development of a mini supermarket in an area that already contains a Co-op, Aldi and Spar, as well as the 'secrecy' surrounding the application. He claimed that residents were not informed of the closure.
"Why has it all been so secret with no mention of closing the pub?" he asked in a prepared statement.
"If we do not stand up to secrecy, we are on a very slippery slope, and I ask the committee to defer the application."
Planning manager David Malcolm said the while the council encourages developers to contact residents over large developments, there is nothing in the law to say that they must hold a public consultation for applications like this.
Councillor Andrew Kolker raised concerns about the safety of the site, which is currently a Safer Route To School for local primary and high schools.
But Councillor Stan Davies said the lack of pub regulars at the meeting suggested they didn't care about losing the Waggon and Horses.
He said: "I thought it would be full of people saying 'don't knock my pub down', but the lack of people here suggests there is no desire for a pub in that area."
The application was approved with conditions of the reduction of opening hours to reduce noise from delivery vehicles.
The store will open from 7am to 10pm rather than 6.30am to 11pm as originally requested.