Residents continue the fight against new shop in former Portsmouth pub
IT'S a case of deja vu for some Fratton residents who have vowed to fight against an 'unnecessary' shop in a former pub yet again, four years after they first rallied together.
The future of the Connaught Arms in Guildford Road, which has been empty since it closed in 2015, is once again up in the air as developers lodged two new applications for the site - one for three homes and the other for a corner shop.
But nearby residents have objected in force against the proposed shop in a repeat of a similar protest staged after the pub called last orders when more than 800 people signed a petition.
This time around a petition has garnered 75 signatures and 27 objections have been made to the council with many believing the area was 'over-saturated' with shops.
Phil Etherington of neighbouring Penhale Road said: 'I feel that the area would not benefit from an additional shop. Penhale News has been established for decades and is part of the local community. There is also another shop in the middle of Newcombe Road a mere 200 yards down the road.
'Not only that, there are various shops in walking distance on the main Fratton Road that are accessible until late or open 24 hours.'
The owner of Penhale News, which sits opposite the Connaught Arms, Sanjay Patel said: 'My business has, over time, become harder to maintain due to the opening of other local convenience stores and larger supermarkets.
'For example, within a five minute walk my local customers can access a Tesco or Asda supermarket, a 24/7 convenience store on Fratton Road, Farm Foods and Iceland. Although these stores may vary in their provision of services, I can assure you that my financial situation has over time felt the effects of these many stores opening nearby.'
The developer, NM Investments Ltd, has also submitted plans to turn the pub into a three-bedroom house and two flats, with a single storey rear extension.
Fratton representative Councillor Dave Ashmore, who organised the original petition against the new shop, believed that new homes would be more appropriate for the site. He said: 'Residents didn't like the plans for another shop there. They already have a community shop in the area.
'I said that if an application came back as a shop I would be completely against it again.
'We all know pubs are closing down at a rate of knots around the country. I'd prefer it to be homes if that's what the plan is. But I'd like to see it become affordable homes, which are really needed in Portsmouth.
'It's better than the building being left empty and falling down.'
Developers were approached for comment.