A NEW Tesco Express is set to become Barnham’s third supermarket after planning permission to convert a vacant pub was granted.
An application to convert the vacant Barnham Hotel, in Barnham Road, to retail use was approved by Arun District Council’s development control committee on Wednesday (February 24).
The committee approved the plans by a majority of nine to two, with three abstentions – despite concerns over highways safety and the number of similar stores in the village.
Barnham councillor Keith Ballard said: “Why is Barnham going to be the only village in the UK, certainly in Sussex, that has three supermarkets? It is unsustainable. It’s absolutely barking.”
The site has been subject to numerous planning applications in recent years, establishing the potential for retail use.
Council officers said the applicant had a ‘fall back position’ which allowed the pub to change to retail use under permitted development rights.
Planning agent Sophie Hinton said the new Tesco Express would have a ‘positive and sustainable impact’, and enhance the retail offer in the village.
But councillor Paul Wells said the argument was always used by the supermarkets and he hoped they would ‘do something slightly different’ to justify it. Councillors Pat Dillon and Barbara Oakley, meanwhile, argued the plans were an ‘accident waiting to happen’.
Mrs Oakley said: “We have got to look at experience. I know two Tesco supermarkets, both of which create enormous parking problems. This is going to end up with people fighting for spaces on the main road. It will be an accident waiting to happen because of the congestion on the road.”
Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower shared concerns about parking but reminded councillors they could not consider matters of competition under planning rules.
He added there was no planning reason for refusal.
West Sussex County Council raised no objection – meaning councillors who had concerns over traffic would have needed strong evidence on the contrary to refuse the application.
Both Eastergate and Barnham parish councils objected to the plans, along with six objections from residents.