Controversial store is set to open mid June

Old Town Sainsbury's New Store Victoria Drive Eastbourne SUS-150705-131722001
Old Town Sainsbury's New Store Victoria Drive Eastbourne SUS-150705-131722001

The controversial Sainsbury’s store on the Drive Pub site in Old Town is due to open for business on Friday June 5.

Workmen are working around the clock to fit out the store in Victoria Drive which has been dogged by controversy since the superstore chain announced its intentions to turn it in to a shop.

Despite a lengthy protest by campaigners, who wanted to see the building kept for community use, and a failed bid for the doctors’ surgery in Green Street to move there and turn it in to a larger medical centre, Sainsbury’s won its fight.

Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles had also been lobbied to change the law so that pubs could not automatically be given retail permission.

Last year the Parkfield Pub in Hampden Park was converted in to a Co-op store.

Campaigners also hoped that when Sainsbury’s announced plans to pull out of building 40 new supermarkets and downgrade the value of 40 under performing stores as part of a drop in sales, the Old Town project would be one of them.

Behind the campaign were independent traders in Albert Parade who said a Sainsbury’s would sound the death knell for their businesses.

Sainsbury’s says the store will bring back into use a vacant building, generate around 20-25 new jobs and “help increase footfall on the parade benefitting existing and new businesses”.

As Sainsbury’s gets ready to open, a new planning application for part of the site has been submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council.

Developers want to knock down an existing garage on the Beechy Road side of the Drive Pub siteand build in its place a three-bedroom house with one parking space.

A decision will be made by town planners soon.