PLANS to turn a closed pub into flats could be stopped in their tracks after the Co-op indicated it could be interested in opening a shop on the site.
And campaigners hope the move would save the 1930s building, which they describe as an area landmark.
Richard Palmer, who has led a campaign to save the site from development, said: ‘It’s an important building, a community hub, and is a landmark in a large area of houses. I hope the Co-op can save it. There would be some flats above the shop, we understand, but it will be better to have the shop instead of just flats, as this is a large area with lots of elderly people, and the shop would be convenient for them to use. This is certainly something the neighbours would prefer.’
Development firm Bacchus Partnership owns the pub, which closed its doors for the last time in April this year, and has twice been refused permission to demolish it by Portsmouth City Council.
The council felt the firm’s proposals, to build 15 flats on the Medina Road site in Wymering would cause parking difficulties, and the new building would be overbearing on neighbours.
But on Friday, the national Co-operative Group’s south eastern acquisitions manager visited the site, and indicated the group would be interested in opening a shop there.
He was invited by Tory councillor Jim Fleming, who explained: ‘I know some people from the Co-op’s acquisition team, and I invited him along. He was impressed. He said its size, location, and number of chimneys, a measurement used to estimate numbers of residents, would make it a good site. It would be good news, as the residents there have no shops closer than Cosham High Street. The Co-op will have to work out financial estimates next. But Bacchus owns the site, so we’ll have to see what can be done to benefit all parties.’
David Roberts, a partner at Bacchus, said: ‘We would be very happy to see Co-op convert the building to a shop. But we’ve spent the last six months talking to shop owners, and it seemed no-one was interested. We haven’t heard anything, but if that’s changed, we’d be very happy to see it happen.’