CAMPAIGNERS who successfully fought an application for Tesco to open a convenience store at an Areley Kings pub say they have "dealt the supermarket giant another blow" after the site was listed an asset of community value (ACV).
The Squirrel pub, Areley Common, has been registered with Wyre Forest District Council after being nominated by campaign group Areley Kings First, in the latest twist in a long-running battle by a number of residents against the plans to open a convenience store at the site.
Under the Localism Act 2011 now the site is listed as an ACV, if it comes up for sale Areley Kings First would be given time to put together a bid to buy it. A sale cannot proceed until six weeks have passed without a written expression of interest. If an interest is expressed, it cannot go through for six months, giving the group time to raise money.
The plans, however, still hang in the balance, as Tesco is yet to announce whether or not it will appeal against the refusal of its planning application to expand the site and enable it to open the store. The Shuttle understands the firm has agreed long lease on the site from owners Punch Taverns if it gets planning permission.
If the lease is fewer than 25 years long, the ACV's six-month rule would not be activated under the law and, even if it was, Punch would be under no obligation to accept any offer from Areley Kings First but a spokesman for the group said the move still sent Tesco "a strong message".
Group chairman Andrew Booton said: "We are delighted that the Squirrel has been recognised as an important site in the Areley Kings community. The listing tells Tesco, yet again, that we do not want this sort of unsustainable development in our neighbourhood. We will continue to fight their proposals. When will Tesco get the message?”
Tesco spokesman Simon Petar said the supermarket giant would wait for the planning decision and reasons in writing from the district council before deciding its next move, which would either be to drop the project or appeal against the application's refusal.
A Punch Taverns spokesman added: "The property is under offer and the party we are contracted to is considering their next steps."
Areley Kings First will host its next public meeting at 7.30pm next Monday at Areley Kings Village Hall, Areley Common, to discuss the group's next steps.