Tesco could be considered a Community Asset according to Worthing’s Cabinet Member for Environment Clive Roberts. Cllr Roberts was commenting on a report to last night’s (Tuesday June 24th) Joint Strategic Committee by the Executive Head of Planning, Regeneration & Wellbeing in response to a ‘Notice of Motion regarding Public Houses’.
The motion is designed to protect pubs from being turned into supermarkets, betting shops, pay-day loan stores or other uses without consultation with the local community. Further the motion asks the Council to help facilitate community groups to nominate pubs as Assets of Community Value. This would mean any pub so designated put up for sale could have a stay of execution for six months while the community finds an alternative solution.
The debate turned on whether or not communities should have the right to intervene in a commercial decision to sell because the pub was unprofitable. The motion argues some pubs are so important to the community the community should have the opportunity to save them. Some Cabinet Members disagreed saying pubs should be subject to market forces like any other business.
The Dolphin Pub in Dominion Road was mentioned as an example where the pub has been sold and will become a Tesco store against wishes expressed by some of the local community. This is when Cllr Roberts suggested Tesco could be considered a community asset.
There was agreement to lobby the Government to rule that change of use from a pub to retail or financial services premises would have to be approved by the local authority Planning Department. That is not the case at the moment as, for instance, in the case of the Dolphin Pub Tesco does not need to apply for change of use.
The motion will be debated at the next Worthing Full Council.
The Joint Strategic Committee is a joint meeting of Worthing Borough Council and Adur District Council.