Pakefield community defeats supermarket giant
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Campaigners have toasted victory after supermarket giant Tesco shelved plans to convert a historic hotel into a new store, in the face of strong opposition.
The success has been hailed as a victory for people power after residents fought for nearly three years to prevent the Tramway Hotel in London Road, Pakefield from becoming a Tesco Express store.
And elated with this week's developments, the Pakefield Opposing Tesco (POT) group – which was formed to save the building – have now proudly displayed a victorious banner in the light of their victory, which reads: 'David and Goliath. Well done Pakefield – we took on the giant and won! Thanks to everyone for your support.'
POT secretary John Ward, said: 'Proudly, the Pakefield community can finally take a big sigh of relief. It can only be seen as a major victory, and a well-deserved reward for what has been a long battle.'
A Tesco spokesman said in a statement: 'We have reviewed our proposals for the Tramway site in Pakefield and made the difficult decision not to proceed with plans for a new store.
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'We're very grateful to everyone who supported our proposals and will continue to work hard to serve the local community from our other stores in the area.'
Mr Ward added: 'The campaign was overseen by a hard working and dedicated steering group led by its chairman Bob Blizzard, who deserves a lot of credit for raising the profile of the Tramway Hotel.
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'People power won the day. If it was not for the community we would have been out of the door a long while ago. We would now be standing in a checkout at Tesco rather than at the bar in the Tramway.
'Now we need people to support the pub as much as possible. As far as I am concerned, with the Tramway Hotel dating back to 1904, we did manage to save an iconic pub – it would have been a disaster if Tesco did come in.'
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WHAT THEY SAID
Peter Byatt, Suffolk County councillor for Pakefield, said: 'This has been a real community effort.'
Sonia Barker, leader of the Labour group on Waveney District Council, and Suffolk County councillor for Pakefield, said: 'This is a really important day for Pakefield. This is just amazing – a true sign of people power.'
Angi Smith, who worked at the Tramway when the Tesco application was first lodged in 2012, said: 'This is a fantastic outcome. The support we have had from the community has been incredible. Now, we hope this will be a community pub in the hub of Pakefield.'
John Ward, secretary of POT, added: 'Enterprise Inns have told us they are currently considering investment into the fabric and decoration of the building, possibly as early as the Autumn this year. As a community, it would be great to see the same spirit retained by using the Tramway as a community hub.'
Tesco announced its plans to open a new store in Pakefield in October 2012. It had planned to open the Tesco Express store in a building which was once the southern terminus of the Lowestoft tram network by summer 2013, making it the firm's fourth store in the area.
But their bid was hampered by fierce local protests, including petitions with more than 2,000 signatures and demonstrations outside council meetings at the town hall.
During the campaign, the community rallied round with table top sales, coffee mornings, raffles and cake sales being held to raise money needed for legal advice.
Campaigners raised fears over the likely increase on traffic and the potential detrimental impact on other local shops in the community.