D-day for tesco

The Alexandra Arms, Whelley, where building work is taking place
The Alexandra Arms, Whelley, where building work is taking place

FOOD giants Tesco will finally have their controversial scheme to transform a landmark Wigan pub considered by councillors this week.

The high street giant now hope the site of the Alexandra pub - named after the famed former colliery which once stood opposite - could re-open as one the latest of more than 1,285 Tesco Express stores across Britain by mid-summer.

Planners are controversially recommending it be approved.

But to do that they will have to win a battle with protesters led by Aspull New Springs Whelley and Vice Chair of Planning Coun John Hilton who has been fighting “tooth and nail” against any such retail development because it is directly opposite the entrance to the Canon Sharples Primary School.

He has accused Tesco of “Trojan horse tactics” to get stores without applying for retail planning permission.

Tesco insist that they were saving a closed-pub site from falling into further dereliction while providing a “popular” shopping amenity.

Their corporate affairs spokesman Matthew Magee said: “This investment is a sign of our confidence and belief in Whelley.”

They also say that it will mean that a pub that has been closed for three years and a site that was facing an uncertain future will not become the type of eyesore on their doorsteps which many residents feared.

Coun Hilton, a school governor at Canon Sharples, claims the redevelopment would “keep parents of pupils awake at night” with worry.

He said that it appeared that the pub company had applied for planning permission and then Tescos had “come in on the back” of the scheme.

Coun Hilton warned that under the planning laws they don’t need a change of use’ application to re-open the building as a supermarket, but they do need permission if they have to alter the building “significantly”.

He said: “Surely this is one of the worst places possible that you could place a Tesco Express.

“This is because fundamentally their business plan is to attract quick passing trade from motorists who maybe have just remembered that they have forgotten something from their main shop.

“So you are going to get a constant stream of vehicles moving in and out directly in front of the entrance to a primary school.

“It is also a highways problem because the entrance any customers would use if they get away with this is on a blind bend and falling gradient on both sides.”

The disputed site sits, he pointed out, on ‘Safe Route to School’ scheme with a dedicated lollipop crossing.