The campaign to stop a former Portsmouth pub being converted into a shop has stepped up.
Fratton leaders have already raised concerns about a developer’s bid to redevelop the former Connaught Arms, in Guildford Road, as it would threaten the future of a family-run store opposite, Penhale News, and it’s yet another pub that would be lost forever.
Now petitions signed by more than 800 people against the proposals have been presented to Portsmouth City Council in the hope their opposition will force the plans to be scrapped.
Fratton Lib Dem councillor Dave Ashmore, who is leading the campaign on behalf of residents, this week collected the petitions that have been circulated in local shops handed them in to the civic offices.
It comes after Cllr Ashmore held a public meeting at Fratton Community Centre so neighbours could voice their concerns.
Cllr Ashmore said: ‘The fact around 800 people have signed the petitions speaks volumes.
‘Another shop is just not wanted.
‘People are also complaining because planning permission has yet to be given yet it appears work is still going on.
‘People are worried about it will mean for the area and concerns have also been raised about anti-social behaviour.
‘Everyone at the public meeting spoke up about it and everyone was pretty angry.’
Residents have until tomorrow to write further objections to the council before the plan goes before a public meeting.
Under current planning laws, a develop does not need planning permission to turn a pub into a shop.
But in the case of the Connaught Arms, the application includes a proposal to build an extension and rolling shutters at the front, which requires approval from the local authority.
A decision is not expected to be made until after Christmas.
Campaigners have already called for changes in legislation so developers require permission to turn a pub into a shop. In recent times, the former Tangier pub, in Tangier Road, Baffins, became a Spar store without any approval required.
Figures published by the Campaign for Real Ale at the start of the year revealed 31 pubs were closing each week, with two a week being lost to supermarkets.
Cllr Ashmore said: ‘There needs to be something that says the residents must have more say in planning decisions.
‘Obviously, with a pub it depends on the location. If it’s in the middle of nowhere then a shop could be welcomed.’