THE last pub on the Sandbanks peninsula has closed down and is to re-open as a Tesco Express store.

After speculation about the future of the Sandacres pub on Banks Road, which shut its doors recently, Tesco has confirmed it has signed contracts to lease the ground floor.

Residents were being told in a letter that the vacant former pub has been acquired by the supermarket giant, which will be creating 20 local jobs.

Melanie Chiswell, the community liaison manager for Tesco said: “It’s a local shop for local people.”

She said: “We don’t require planning permission because pubs can be converted to shops without planning permission under permitted development rights.

“In my experience lots of people welcome Tesco Express stores because they regenerate buildings no longer in use, such as closed down pubs.

“We don’t have to knock the building down, can return some of its nice original features and improve the look of it.”

However Ken Sanson, chairman of the Sandbanks Association, expressed surprise and apprehension about the move.

“Once you come on to the peninsula, not every property is fully active. The main problem, of course, is the traffic for deliveries to stock the place. It will cause traffic problems in an area that is already affected by traffic problems.”

Cllr Bruce Grant-Braham, chairman of Poole Tourism Partnership, pictured inset, said: “It’s a pity. From the tourist point of view, it’s the ideal place to have a drink when you are approaching or leaving the beach.

“When I was a councillor for the area, there were very few residents living on Sandbanks and in the immediate vicinity. An awful lot of the properties are holiday or second homes and for much of the year they remain unoccupied.”

A popular venue on its Tuesday quiz nights, the pub across the road from the sea also attracted windsurfers and kitesurfers from Whitley Bay as well as holidaymakers and locals.

Tesco Express stores hours are usually from 6-7am to 10-11pm and it will have three to five deliveries a day. “Most of our customers walk,” said Ms Chiswell.

“They mostly come from within 1km.” However there will be some parking in the former pub’s car park.