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Areley Kings residents plan to take on Tesco Express application
BATTLE lines have been drawn by residents of Areley Kings who say they intend to object to a bid by Tesco to move into the village.
About 100 people packed Areley Kings Methodist Church for a public meeting last night to discuss a proposal to turn The Squirrel Pub, Areley Common, into a Tesco Express store.
Tesco submitted a planning application for the move yesterday and Labour councillor Jamie Shaw, who hosted the meeting, confirmed the final decision would be made by Wyre Forest District Council's planning committee, possibly next month.
That means councillors will ultimately decide the application's fate and applicants and members of the public will be able to attend the committee meeting.
The plans have drawn a mixed reaction since being reported by The Shuttle last week but residents at last night's meeting overwhelmingly raised concerns about the volume of traffic the store could cause as well as local businesses and jobs being lost and it was announced a petition opposing the plans had received 1,500 signatures.
One resident, Debbie Carr, told the meeting she could feel her house shake when heavy vehicles drove past and feared more lorries on the road could damage her property.
Tesco spokesman Simon Petar, who will host another meeting next Monday at 7.30pm at Areley Kings Village Hall, however, has previously told The Shuttle the shop would create about 20 jobs and boost the local economy.
As well as discussing plans to participate in the planning process at yesterday's meeting, residents revealed they would consider registering the Squirrel as an "asset of community value".
That could see a community group apply to the district council to list the site and would give members six months to raise funds and bid for it.
Areley Kings resident Rebecca Williams said: "I think it is clear the community is sticking together and they are determined to fight."
Ms Carr said she was confident villagers could halt the plans. "I think it will be a lot more heated on Monday and people will be quite angry," she added. "People in this village are passionate about this village."
The controversy started earlier this month when it was revealed Tesco had taken a lease from Squirrel owners Punch Taverns.
Responding to early fears, Mr Petar told The Shuttle: “There is every reason to believe we will co-exist and complement the existing independent traders, as we do in villages and small towns across the country.”
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