Call made for action to stop pubs being turned into shops

A PASSIONATE call for action to stop pubs being turned into shops because of planning loopholes has been made.

Cllr Simon McDougall (I, Bersted) showed his protest as members of Arun District Council’s development and control committee discussed five applications from Tesco for the former Barnham Bridge Inn by abstaining on each vote.

Cllr McDougall said: “I have been abstaining on this and I will continue to abstain on this because I do not believe in the principle right to do this to public houses.

“One thing I would ask that goes away from this committee and is looked back in other areas is for the cabinet member to write to all the local MPs in this area and ask them to start lobbying for a change in permitted rights which is taking away our public houses and allowing applications like this to be running roughshod over the planning system so that we can’t even put restrictions in on parking, highways issues or anything else. It’s wrong and it should be brought as full application to this committee.

“Unfortunately, as the law stands at the moment we can’t do anything about that.

“But I would ask that we seriously get the planning cabinet member to actually start taking this up at a national level.”

James Dempser, a planning agent acting on behalf of Tesco, said: “As you are aware the Barnham Bridge Inn can be converted without any planning permission.

“Therefore despite some objections the applications you have before you should be considered solely on how they would impact on the building itself.”

Mr Dempser said Tesco had worked hard to ensure changes to the building were minimal. The supermarket had all of its five applications approved by the committee.

These included the installation of a cash machine, six bollards, air conditioning units and fan condensers, as well minor alternations and a new shop front with sliding doors and signage.

Committee member John Charles (Con, Barnham) said he feared people stopping to use the ATM would cause parking problems.

Cllr Charles said: “I have no objection to the machine itself but I do have objections to the parking. That area will be a nightmare again.

“That is a busy busy road and with people backing on and off that is going to cause chaos.”

Fellow committee member David Edwards (Con, Bognor Hotham) agreed. “It is the main road in and out of Barnham and I think there is the potential for problems there,” he said.