Pub set to close to make way for convenience store

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A COMMUNITY pub looks set to close after a supermarket secured a licence which could a shop on the site.

The White Hart Pub in Castle Street, Portchester, is open – but The Southern Co-operative has won a licence to sell alcohol at the site as an off-licence.

It means the pub is likely to be shut down and turned into a Co-op store.

The decision, made by a panel at Fareham Borough Council, paves the way for the supermarket giant to buy the pub and apply for planning permission at the site.

Phil Ponsonby, chief operating officer for food retail and services at The Southern Co-operative, said: ‘Once all legal matters are finalised with regard to the acquisition we will be delighted to meet residents to share our plans regarding the operation of the new community store.’

But many people are concerned about the appearance of another convenience store, particularly as there are three others already nearby.

Julie Wick, manager of the pub, said: ‘It’s devastating for the locals. Yet another pub is closing.

‘I can’t see the need for another Co-op there.

‘It’s unfortunate to be honest.

‘We get a good stream of locals who come in every day.

‘The pub has done quite a bit for charity – that’s all going to go. It’s a shame.’

Portchester councillor Roger Price said: ‘I’m extremely concerned.

‘There is a problem with traffic on what is quite a busy junction.

‘There is a delivery truck problem with the timing and the access into the store.

‘I feel that the Co-op should have consulted the three local councillors and the residents.

‘They should have been talking to people before they got to this stage.

‘The Co-op has got to be responsive to the people to try to resolve these issues.’

Cllr Price said it was a shame that the pub was being forced to close.

‘It wouldn’t be closing if it had the client base,’ he said.

‘But people aren’t drinking in pubs these days – they are drinking at home more. Look at the price of drinking in pubs – I can understand why they have got to charge the prices to cover the costs.

‘But the supermarkets have killed the pub trade by offering cheap beers and wines.’

Previously, a spokeswoman for Punch, which owns the pub, said the firm was ‘exploring options’ around its future.