COMMUNITY campaigners say they are increasingly hopeful that officials will reject Tesco’s plans for their beloved local pub.
The supermarket has applied to extend the 176-year-old Victoria and Albert Inn at Seaton Delaval – the first step towards turning it into one of its Express stores.
Now members of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee have visited the pub to see for themselves the role it plays at the heart of their community.
They also assessed the traffic conditions that drinkers, nearby business owners and residents say will only worsen if the plans are approved.
At their last meeting, where more than 50 people turned out to voice their objections, councillors were told highways officers had some concerns about the proposals but nothing that would prevent them approving them if the car park was redesigned.
But as they toured the historic hostelry, cars lined both sides of the busy street outside the popular tavern, effectively reducing it to one lane after a blind corner and resulting in a few near misses.
Angela Holden, owner of Carltons the Feed Merchants and Delaval Car Accessories, which are opposite the pub, said she hoped the planners would get a sense of why turning the pub into a supermarket is a bad idea.
“You can see the levels of congestion just after a blind corner as people park on the road because it’s easier,” she said.
“Imagine then adding articulated trucks making deliveries into that and it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
On a cold afternoon yesterday more than 30 people turned out specifically to show their support for keeping the pub as it is. And a petition calling instead for Tesco to consider buying a garage and MoT centre half a mile down the road, started by elderly diners eating lunch inside, quickly garnered more than 70 signatures.
Westbourne Motor Company owner Craig Richards, 64, said as yet he’d had no approach from the supermarket but if they made him a good enough offer he would be willing to consider moving the business, which has been in the same place since 1927.
“All I can think about their current plans is, ‘That’s going to be so dangerous for traffic’,” he said.
“I’ve lived here 64 years and like everyone I know what that corner is like. But Tesco haven’t approached us.”
Tesco do not need planning permission to turn the Victoria and Albert from a pub into a supermarket as such a change is allowed under Northumberland’s permitted development rules.
But the company has applied to build a 108sqm extension out into the car park, and halve the number of parking spaces. Campaigners hope that if they can have permission refused it will put the firm off their plans and save the pub.
A decision is due to be made at a planning meeting in the Adamson Suite Welfare Centre, Choppington, next Tuesday at 7.30pm.
Tesco was unavailable for comment.