FEELINGS were running high after councillors approved plans for a Co-op convenience store on the site of the former Fairmile pub in Christchurch.

Despite public opposition as well as objections from local traders and ward councillor Colin Bungey, members gave the contentious scheme for the disused pub their backing, 5-1.

They were asked to approve the internal changes only as change of use was already given under permitted development.

Concerns about traffic, disturbance to residents from deliveries and impact on local businesses could not be given as reasons for refusal as this was associated with change of use, said development management manager Giles Moir.

Christopher Gordon, spokesperson for West Christchurch Residents’ Association, raised concerns over early morning deliveries disturbing residents, the impact of the changed facade of the store on the local area and the access to the site.

Residents and traders led a campaign leading up to the meeting voicing concerns about the possibility of increased traffic congestion and the negative impact on the small businesses nearby.

Cllr Peter Hall asked if conditions could be put on the sale of newspapers and alcohol from Co-op as a way to protect the nearby independent traders.

But Mr Moir reminded him this was not a change of use application and no such conditions could be placed on the store.

Planning member and Jumpers ward councillor Fred Neale also spoke in defence of the campaigners, calling unsuccessfully for the proposal to be rejected.

Cllr Lisle Smith, who proposed approval, said: “I think it is a sad case that we can't defend this piece of land or the community.”

After the vote, one member of the public told councillors they should be “ashamed”.

“When all those businesses are shut, remember tonight,” she said.