Popular pub to become Tesco express

A PORTISHEAD pub that was once the centre of the West Hill community is set to become a Tesco Express.

Work has already begun at The Royal Oak in West Hill, which closed more than a year ago.

The old flagstones which surrounded the property have been removed and a wire fence has been put up around the perimeter. Internal alterations are being carried out but a statement issued by Tesco says any attractive features will be retained and the design will be in-keeping with the traditional character of the building.

The first local residents knew about the plans were in a letter they received from Tesco on September 8, as work began.

It says the former pub already has permission for retail use so no planning permission is required. Tesco will, however, be seeking planning permission for minor alterations such as installation of a cash machine and signs.

The news has been met with mixed feelings from residents who are angry there has been no public consultation.

Robert Bull who lives nearby said: “I am surprised I knew nothing about this until work began and question whether or not we really need another food store in the West Hill community.

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“We have a perfectly adequate supermarket just across the road at Costcutter and that business will undoubtedly suffer, possibly leaving us with another empty shop in the future and the loss of other services we get from the popular store.”

Other people have said they are distraught that all hopes of The Royal Oak returning as a popular community pub have now been dashed forever.

Sophie Akokhia, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said: “We want to regenerate The Royal Oak, offering a small convenience store with a wide range of fresh produce and essential items. We are committed to creating 20 new jobs that will be prioritised for local people and hope to open our doors to customers in the New Year.”

This will be the first Tesco in Portishead. Ms Akokhia said it will not directly compete with more than 90 per cent of local businesses and it will not offer popular services such as Pay Point which is available at Costcutter.