Campaigners fighting to stop Sainsbury’s opening up in Old Town have been thrown an eleventh-hour legal lifeline.
A covenant on the Drive Pub in Victoria Drive has been uncovered which means the supermarket giant will now have to apply for planning permission to change the use of the building from a pub to a supermarket.
It was originally thought that under planning laws no planning application had to be made if the building was to be converted into a supermarket.
But covenants placed on the building when it was sold in 1932 mean there needs to be a change of use application and Sainsbury’s has been told it must apply for permission.
The news has delighted campaigners, who do not want to see the building become a shop.
Old Town ward councillor Janet Coles said, “It has come to light that there is a covenant on The Drive that requires Eastbourne Borough Council’s permission if there were to be a change of use from a public house to a Sainsburys retail outlet. I am calling on the council to refuse permission for this change of use.”
“The people of Old Town do not want The Drive public house turned into a retail outlet. Many believe that it could cause potentially serious damage to the vibrant, independent shops to be found in Albert Parade, which have served the Old Town community so well and for so many years.”
“The ball is now in the hands of Sainsbury’s and hopefully it will see that local people do not want a supermarket on this site.”
A council spokesperson said, “The relevant covenant allowed the owner to continue to use the property as a hotel or public house so long as a licence can be obtained and not to use the property for any trade or business (other than hotel or public house) without consent.
“A supermarket is not a pub or hotel and hence the council has written to Sainsbury’s agents to inform them of the covenant and the need to obtain our approval to the variation in user.”