Builders have begun work on the former Drive Pub site in Old Town and all the signs are that Sainsbury’s is set to go ahead with its controversial plans to open a convenience store there.
A skip appeared in the car park of the former hostelry in Victoria Drive this week and builders have been clearing out the interior.
The Herald has been unable to ascertain exactly who the builders are working for but it appears it is supermarket giant Sainsbury, which has planning permission to open a store there.
The clearing work began as campaigners heard that Eastbourne Borough Council had agreed to lift protective covenants meaning the building could be used as something other than a community use.
The news has come as a bitter blow for campaigners who are against a Sainsbury’s store opening there and wanted instead to see a medical centre or a pub chain take the building over.
They have collected thousands of signatures on a petition, mounted a campaign to keep Sainsbury’s out and have the support of Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and Old Town councillors.
There was a glimmer of hope that the building would be taken over by the nearby Green Street Medical Centre but while talks are still ongoing, Sainsbury’s appears to be ready to start refurbishing the site.
Stephen Lloyd MP said yesterday he was hopeful the medical centre plan could still come off and that a campaign for it could gather momentum.
He said, “I am very disappointed that Sainsbury’s has not listened to what local residents want and although we have managed to delay them for ten months, it doesn’t look good.
“However, me, the traders and the residents are now going to be fighting very hard for the Green Street Medical Centre to be moved to the Drive Pub.”