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Traders fight application to convert derelict Fairmile pub into Co-op store
TRADERS and residents in Christchurch have kick-started a campaign against an application to convert a disused pub into a Co-operative store.
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of increased traffic congestion and the negative impact the change could have on the small businesses nearby.
The Fairmile pub was forced to shut down in 2008 but new guidelines state that planning permission does not need to be granted to change a drinking establishment to a shop.
Ward Councillor Colin Bungey has urged as many people as possible to protest and even voiced his intention to take the matter to MP Chris Chope.
He said: “At least half a dozen shops could be forced to close and other businesses will be placed under serious threat.
“I will be taking the matter to local MP Chris Chope and any other Dorset MPs who might be interested because there is absolutely nothing that a local authority can do. It is ludicrous.”
At least 10 objections have already been submitted and 12 are needed by December 26 to ensure the application is brought before the planning committee.
Graham Northeast, the owner of Bonafide Wines, said: “A Co-op would not be in-keeping with the look and feel of the local community. We are also worried that there will be increased traffic and other shops could be put out of business.”
Co-owner of Fairmile Florist Stuart Balding said: “I have already submitted my objection as I know it will definitely affect my business.”
John Ellis from Town Common News said: “I think the Co-op opening would affect all the businesses in the area and it would look out of place.”
The new convenience store will create 25 new jobs and hopes to invigorate the area and create a greater sense of community.
Gareth Dexter, Regional Acquisitions Manager for The Co-operative Food, said: “The investment will bring a bright, modern store with an extensive fresh produce range and excellent customer service.
“We look forward to welcoming new customers, meeting the community’s daily food shopping needs and, in the best traditions of The Co-operative, make our contribution to local life.”
- West Christchurch Residents Association have also written to the council objecting to the change of use, saying the site would be better used as affordable housing.
They have objected to the new frontage, impact on road users, and the impact on neighbouring shops, potentially creating a “rundown area as local businesses fold”, according to a letter they have sent the planning department.
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