‘We’re fighting a battle – we don’t want it to close’

BATTLE The White Hart pub in Portchester
BATTLE The White Hart pub in Portchester
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LOCALS are calling for a pub to be saved so it doesn’t get turned into a convenience store.

Although the White Hart pub in Portchester is still open, Southern Co-operatives has applied for a licence to sell alcohol at the site.

Notices recently appeared on lampposts around the Castle Street pub notifying people that the retailer wants permission to sell booze from 6am to 11pm every day at the premises.

Campaigners have some powerful support, with Fareham Borough Council’s leader questioning the need for another shop.

Pub regular Ian McGregor said: ‘We are fighting a battle here – we don’t want it to close. There’s a smashing bunch of locals that still drink here and it’s a right cross-section of ages. It seems strange that the Co-op wants it when they’ve already got a shop nearby in White Hart Lane and they’ve got a Somerfield back up in the precinct as well.

‘In 10 to 15 years’ time there won’t be any pubs left apart from the Wetherspoons and the other chains.’

The fight to save the White Hart comes as The News continues its Love Your Local campaign, encouraging people to support pubs.

Havant Borough Council recently saved the Crow’s Nest pub in Cowplain by rejecting a planning application for the site.

It has a policy that says owners have to prove they had tried to make the pub work as a going concern.

Fareham Borough Council doesn’t have a similar policy.

But leader Sean Woodward said: ‘We would take some convincing that there’s an over-riding need for a new convenience store there.’

The pub is also part of the Castle Street conservation area so there would be major restrictions on altering the building.

Paul Woodman, of Portchester Civic Society, said: ‘We are watching this closely and we are looking to question the timings of the application and any potential access.

‘You’re going to get delivery vehicles coming and going at all hours if it’s a shop instead. But with two other shops of theirs so close by already, we can’t see where the trade is going to come from.’

Alice Bowen, spokeswoman for Punch, which owns the pub, said: ‘The White Hart is currently open for trade and being run by a temporary operator whilst we continue to explore options around the future of the pub.’

No date has been set for the application to be heard.

Steve Tremlett, head of retail business development at Southern Co-operatives, said: ‘We are in discussion with Punch Taverns, but nothing has yet been finalised.’