PROTESTS against plans for a new Tesco store are getting out of hand, a councillor has warned.
Traders and residents in Lee-on-the-Solent have been campaigning against the opening of a new shop at Pier House, on the corner of Pier Road and Marine Parade West.
The supermarket giant says it will create between 20 and 30 jobs but members of the Lee Business Association say it will hit trade.
Ward councillor for Lee West, Cllr John Beavis, said: ‘The council’s position is quite clear. Pier House has got planning permission and the retail licence has been granted.
‘From Gosport Borough Council’s point of view, it can’t dictate which sort of retail unit goes there.
‘Of course there are mixed feelings in Lee on this matter.
‘There are those who think it will adversely affect traders in the High Street.
‘But it’s only 330sq m. It’s much smaller than the Co-op and is about the same size as Alldays which used to be there.
‘I think in some ways it’s got a little out of hand.
‘The traders say they have got a petition with 400 signatures on it while there are 8,000 people who live in Lee.
‘Many of them believe the store could increase visitors to the area and therefore the other shops.’
The council granted planning permission for developers to turn Pier House into 14 flats and two retail units in November last year.
Then last month, the supermarket chain confirmed it had taken on a lease for one of the retail units and wanted to open a Tesco Express store there.
A number of traders and residents have since turned out to protest against the plans and handed over a petition to the council.
Rick Barter, from The Book Shop, in nearby High Street, said: ‘I think they are bad for British high streets.
‘There is still one healthy shopping district in Gosport and that is Lee. I think this is the first nail in the coffin for us.
‘The protest is about letting Tesco know we think the whole thing stinks.
‘I had a realisation when I went to Bristol once and I walked up and down every street and there wasn’t a single newsagent or corner shop.
‘They were all companies like Tesco and that’s when I realised all the anti-globalisation people weren’t making it up. They are pushing people out.’
Tesco is already building a store in Rowner and a large store near the Quay Street roundabout in Fareham.
A number of planning applications for a cash machine at the store and new signs are currently being considered.