Fears voiced over plans to replace West Lavington pub with store
A new convenience store on the site of the former Stage Post pub in West Lavington could threaten the viability of village shops throughout the area, a public meeting in the village hall on Thursday heard.
The parish council had called the meeting to allow residents to express their feelings about Punch Taverns’ plans to demolish the pub, which has been closed and derelict for the last three years.
David Prichard of Marrons Planning, agents for the scheme, explained that the site will be cleared and six three-bedroom homes erected on the site of the former function room.
The pub itself will be replaced by a retail building of a similar external design in which Budgens have indicated they wish to open a convenience store with selling space of 280 square metres.
A number of questioners from the floor pointed out that a new general store in the village would put the existing Costcutter store out of business and Mr Prichard elicited loud laughter when he said he did not share this view.
Mr Prichard responded: “The property is changing from one kind of community facility, a pub, and replacing it with another type - a convenience store.”
Villager Neil Harris said: “Why duplicate what we already have? I am grateful this site is being developed but what alternatives have been considered? There are lots of different kinds of shop it could be.”
Mr Prichard said that it is unlikely a shoe shop or clothing store would be able to survive in a village the size of West Lavington, which has a population of around 1,500.
Chris Bonney told the meeting: “A new store the size of the one being proposed would threaten small shops in Littleton Panell, Great Cheverell and Market Lavington as well as in West Lavington. Give us diversity.”
Alison Drake, who runs Costcutter with her husband Chris, said: “Why ruin all the businesses in this and surrounding villages by putting in a new supermarket? What happened to the previous scheme to demolish the pub and build 12 low-cost homes?”
Mr Prichard said he had no knowledge of that proposal but said that if it was viable, it would have been pursued. He added: “People will only patronise a store if it has something they want to buy. There is no reason why two businesses can survive in the same village.”
The parish council was due to discuss the plans at its meeting tomorrow and council chairman Liz Evans said they would bear in mind the opinions expressed at Thursday’s meeting.
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