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Campaigners against Tesco’s bid for Tramway Hotel in Pakefield want building to become a community asset

PUBLISHED: 16:14 08 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:17 08 February 2014

The Tramway Hotel and Pub in Pakefield which could be turned into a Tesco Express.

The Tramway Hotel and Pub in Pakefield which could be turned into a Tesco Express.

Archant © 2012

Campaigners against plans to open a fourth Tesco store in the Lowestoft area have agreed to step up their campaign by submitting an application to turn the Tramway Hotel and Pub in Pakefield into a community asset.

The move follows a meeting of the Pakefield Opposing Tesco (POT) group this morning where it was decided that in order to protect the landmark building from being turned into a Tesco Express, an application should be submitted to Waveney District Council to prove that the building is an asset of community value.

One resident said: “I feel that with a bit of management and a facelift the Tramways could be part of the community again.

“If we apply to turn it into a community asset then we’ve got six months to come up with a plan and think about what we want to do with it.”

The application by Tesco Stores Ltd to extend the Victorian pub in London Road, was due to be voted on by Waveney District Council in January, but a decision has now been deferred until March 18, to give councillors time for a site visit and to allow a traffic assessment to be conducted.

The meeting, chaired by Bob Blizzard, chairman of POT and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, was attended by more than 130 residents who fear that the creation of a Tesco Express will increase traffic and noise problems and take trade away from the existing shops who have served the community for a number of years.

However last month the district council’s development control committee was told by planning officers that the two single-storey rear extensions should be approved, and that Tesco does not need change of use planning permission to convert the pub into a store because it is not a hotel.

Mr Blizzard said: “This is what I now see as a three step campaign. We have to succeed in getting the council to insist that Tesco needs to apply for change of use. We need to stop the immediate application for extensions to the building to facilitate it being a shop, and if Tesco does have to apply for change of use we need to make sure that the council turns it down.

“We all know that the Tramway is a hotel. It opened as a hotel in the beginning of the 20th Century, it has always been advertised as a hotel and it says it is a hotel about five times on various parts of the building. At the very least it is a mixed use of guest house and a pub and the law is very clear on that guest houses have to have planning permission to turn into a shop.”

As well as applying to turn the building into a community asset, residents have volunteered to carry out their own traffic survey and will be working with an expert in measuring sound to determine the impact the shop would have on noise levels.

Mr Blizzard added: “It is important to present real evidence that we can collect locally.

“This is a spontaneous and genuinely felt campaign and if we can keep going like this, gathering more momentum and getting more and more people on board, spreading the word and putting up posters, then it’s looking like we will succeed.”

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