The transformation of an Aldershot pub to a Sainsbury's Local store with a 15-space car park is almost complete, with the shop to open soon.
The former Prince of Wales pub building, in Ash Road, part of Aldershot since the early Victorian era, was controversially chosen by Sainsbury’s in 2010 and the derelict pub was demolished despite objections from members of the community.
The new store manager Adam Thompson was keen to show that the supermarket’s presence would be of benefit to the community, and has invited children from Newport Junior School to take part in the launch on April 3, with the shop set to be open for business two hours earlier. Mr Thompson plans to donate active goodie packs to those present.
He said: “This has been an exciting opportunity for me and, despite some delays, the Sainsbury’s team are looking forward to opening their doors to the local Aldershot community.”
He also said that 17 jobs had been created as a result of the development.
Worries were put forward during the consultation on the store including the impact of additional traffic and delivery lorries on the already busy roads.
The site is at the junction with Lower Farnham Road, opposite a set of four-way traffic lights.
The removal of five residential parking spaces for the purposes of increased shop front visibility was also bemoaned, as was the loss of a landmark manor house building.
The owners of the nearby Wells BP petrol station argued the garage would be obscured by the shop and would lose customers due to restricted access.
It was also suggested that the removal of certain retaining walls and hedges would increase the risk of pedestrians being involved in road accidents.
Under planning laws, supermarkets do not require an additional licence in order to operate on former pub sites, and Aldershot, like many surrounding towns, has been plagued by pub closures in recent years.
Last July the Heron Pub in Lower Farnham Road was reopened as a Co-op convenience store. The Queen’s Head in North Lane has also been closed, while brewery Greene King has confirmed that its Beehive and Garden Gate pubs are the subject of a review, meaning they could also be closed in the future.
Paul Cowper, chairman of the Surrey and Hampshire border branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), has described the appeal of pubs to supermarket companies as ‘unfortunate’ and called for pubs to offer more community services other than simply serving drinks to make them indispensable to the towns they exist within.