December 7 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Monday, December 24, 2012
A former pub in Newbury Park is being turned into a Costcutter supermarket, to the dismay of helpless residents.
The County, in Horns Road, closed in 2010 when landlords gave up their tenancy and the brewery has since sold the land.
A tavern has stood on the site for more than 100 years but residents and Redbridge Council are powerless to stop it being turned into a shop because of a loophole in planning laws.
Permission is not needed to turn a pub or wine bar into a retail shop so developers can go ahead without council approval or public consultation.
The council is treating an application for external changes, including a shop front and a disabled ramp as “invalid” because more information is needed.
Suzanne Batey, of Ardwell Avenue, was a regular in the pub for 14 years.
She said: “We already have three convenience shops in that block.
“There was an off licence that closed in the summer because of the competition from the convenience stores so the last thing they need is more.”
Previous developers wanted to knock down the building and build a block of nine flats and shops.
The council refused the application, citing car parking, traffic, appearance, and the “loss of a community facility”.
Mrs Batey said: “We already have problems with people parking on kerbs and drives to go to the existing shops but if there’s a supermarket, people won’t want to carry shopping long distances.”
Cllr Ruth Clark said she would personally prefer another pub but that trends were changing.
She added: “When the old King George Hospital was there it was packed with doctors and nurses but so many local pubs are going.
“I would fight it if I could but there’s no much we can do.”
Building work is already in progress and even if the application for a shop front is refused, the conversion can continue without it.
Council planning officers have inspected the site and are “keeping the situation under review” to ensure planning laws are not contravened.
The Recorder has contacted Costcutter for confirmation but did not receive a response by the time of going to press.