Controversial Old Town store plans discussed

Town planners are due to meet tonight to discuss the final proposals to turn The Drive Pub in Old Town into a Sainsbury’s Local store.

Although the supermarket giant does not need planning permission to convert the public house into a store, alterations to the building and car park do.

The plans look set to be given the green light from Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee, which meets tonight at the Town Hall at 6pm.

Already permission has been granted for outside alterations and to demolish a conservatory but now developers want the green light to re-grade the parking area and re-design the parking layout.

Planning officers are recommending approval in a move which is being seen by campaigners against the store opening as the final approval Sainsbury’s needs to open its doors.

Last week a public meeting was held at the pub which was chaired by Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and attended by opponents who want to see the pub kept open or alternatively, the building used for the community.

More than 200 people attended the meeting, the majority of whom wee against the Sainsbury’s plan.

Councillor John Ungar, the Old Town councillor and chairman of the planning committee, explained the planning application and issues related to planning and a council planning officer also took questions from the floor.

Councillor Ungar said he has asked the legal department at the council to look into any leads the authority could follow up to stop the store going ahead with its plans.

Traders in Albert Parade have also started a petition and campaigners are urging people to email their councillors asking for their support in vetoing the proposals over planning, traffic, parking, safety and access issues, email Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King and company chairman David Tyler explaining what Albert Parade is and the detrimental impact a store would have.

MP Stephen Lloyd is also planning a meeting with Sainsburys executives to discuss the issue.

Campaigners are also looking into the possibility of redesignating the use of the pub so it can be used for community purposes or even a much needed health centre for the area.

As well as the Facebook group there is also a Twitter group starting up, @albertparade