'Fight goes on' for Areley Kings Tesco campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS who successfully fought a refused application for Tesco to open a convenience store in Areley Kings say the "fight will go on" as bosses at the supermarket giants consider their options.

Councillors at Wyre Forest District Council's planning committee voted to refuse the application to extend the Squirrel Pub at Areley Common and open a Tesco Express store at the site by 14 votes to two. Committee members overturned planning officer Paul Round's recomendation for approval on the grounds of concerns about highways and quality of life.

Residents living near the site have formed a campaign group and held several public meetings during the last three months to discuss fears the store would have lead to an increase of traffic on the narrow roads and delivery lorries would cause a danger to pedestrians and people's houses.

Despite the refusal, Tesco now has a number of options. As well as simply droping the project, the firm could choose to open the shop without extending the site as planning permission does not need to be gained to change a building's use from a pub to a convenience store. Another, more likely, option for Tesco would be to appeal the refusal - which could see the decision get overturned.

Corporate affairs manager Simon Petar said: "We were disappointed that the proposed express store was rejected by councillors. Tesco will make a decision on its next steps once the council has published its report on the decision."

Areley Kings resident Rob Lloyd, who organised a petition opposing the application, which received more than 2,000 signatures, said: "I think the planning committee have used a lot of common sense, listened and read correspondence from the local public and come to the correct decision to refuse this application.

"The fight goes on as we must now come up with alternatives for usage of this site."

At the meeting, Conservative councillor Gordon Yarranton, however, said following the decision: "I am concerned this could go ahead on a smaller scale with the problems mentioned tonight but no control over it."

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