Meeting over fate of Old Town pub

The Drive public house in Victoria Drive Eastbourne which could be converted into a branch of Sainsbury's. June 5th 2013 E23214P
The Drive public house in Victoria Drive Eastbourne which could be converted into a branch of Sainsbury's. June 5th 2013 E23214P

A petition is set to be handed over to Sainsbury’s headquarters in London following controversial plans for the store to set up shop on the site of a pub in Old Town.

A meeting was held last week which the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd attended to keep people posted on the latest developments.

Residents were outraged when they learnt of plans for the supermarket giant to replace the Drive pub and were concerned how it would affect business at the row of shops opposite in Albert Parade and lead to an increase in traffic.

Initially it was found that under existing planning laws a change of use is not required to convert a pub to a supermarket. Then it was found that there was a covenant on the pub in Victoria Drive which means Sainsbury’s will not have to apply for planning permission to develop a supermarket there.

The pub closed its doors a few months ago.

On Thursday last week around 60 people attended Motcombe School to find out the latest news on the situation and to highlight any issues.

It was established the petition, which has so far attracted more than 3,500 signatures, will take place at Sainsbury’s London HQ.

Residents are also set to conduct a traffic survey so the campaign team can present the data to the East Sussex County Council highways department.

Mr Lloyd said, “I would like to thank all the local residents and traders who have been so supportive of the ‘Keep Albert Parade Special’ campaign.

“We will continue to keep up the fight, continue to back local traders and oppose Sainsbury’s plans for a mini-supermarket in Old Town. A group of residents and traders have registered The Drive pub as a ‘Community Value Asset’ – and this will be considered by the council at the end of October.

There are also plans in the pipeline for a Christmas event to highlight Albert Parade.

Mr Lloyd added, “Local residents and the Albert Parade and the cross-party and cross-community Albert Parade Campaign Committee love our shopping parade with its traditional shops.

“We believe a major supermarket brand likes Sainsbury’s moving in would change the character of Albert Parade forever and not necessarily in a better way!”

Back in July the community joined forces to support a spend £5 in Albert Parade initiative, which urged shoppers to come along and support the parade of shops which boasts a butchers, a baker, greengrocers and fishmongers.

The event was a huge success and saw hundreds of people turn out and spend their money at the stores. People were also pictured with umbrellas to drive the message home ‘Don’t rain on Albert Parade’.

Since news emerged of Sainsbury’s plans to create a supermarket at the site a Facebook group was also set up called Keep Albert Parade Special, along with the website: www.albertparade.co.uk