HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition against the building of a new Marston's pub and restaurant in Leek amid concerns for the future of existing inns.
Wolverhampton-based brewery and pub company Marston's Inns and Taverns has submitted plans to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to build the premises on Sainsbury's Churnet Works site in Macclesfield Road.
The two-storey building would serve 150 covers, with a new access road leading to 43 parking spaces.
But the publicans of nearby premises The Dyers Arms, The White Lion and The Abbey Inn are concerned about the impact that the new premises could have on the town's already struggling pub trade.
Paul Richardson, landlord of The Dyers Arms in Macclesfield Road, has set up a petition opposing the plans, which has been signed by more than 200 people.
He said: "They've gone completely off the original plans; this land was meant to be for affordable housing.
"There are more than enough pubs to go around with adequate facilities including dining.
"We're struggling and pubs are shutting as it is, so why do we need another one?
"They haven't asked people what they think.
"That site needs a bowling alley, cinema, or ice rink, anything that will bring more people into the town, not another pub taking people away from us.
"People will be disinclined to go into town if they've got everything there, especially those coming from out of town.
"It won't bring trade into town – it will take from existing businesses here and in the town centre.
"They say it will create 50 jobs, but they will be lost elsewhere as well.
"Traffic on this road is already horrendous and they are proposing 43 parking spaces for 150 covers. Where will all the people park?"
Kelvin Barks, proprietor of The White Lion in Macclesfield Road, said: "Leek once held the Guinness World Record for having the most pubs in a town; it does not need another one."
Turn to Page 3
From Page 1
"A few have closed as the market has changed and this is going to hit the trade even harder.
"There's enough pubs to feed and water the people of Leek and surrounding areas without having any more.
"It will hurt smaller businesses, most of which might not be strong enough to compete, and is adding unnecessary competition."
Darral and Joanne Sargeant, own The Abbey Inn in Abbey Green Road.
Mr Sargeant said: "People don't want it because when Sainsbury's moved in there was no mention of a pub.
"A lot asked 'why don't they put something there for everyone, like a cinema or bowling alley'.
"Even a McDonald's or KFC would be better.
"They say there will be 50 jobs, but they won't be full-time and there will be more jobs lost when it hits trade in other pubs.
"To build a new pub when there are already pubs struggling will kill Leek.
"It's not good for the area and it's going to put great pressure on the trade."
A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "The wider Churnet Works proposals still include planning permission for 39 new homes and discussions are on-going with a housing provider to deliver this element of the scheme. Subject to obtaining planning permission, a potential Marston's would provide more choice for the residents of Leek."
A Marston's spokesman added: "All plans are of course subject to council recommendations and councillors' approval, which we hope will reflect what we genuinely believe; that this development will not only generate jobs and bring money into the local economy, but will be a great place for families to enjoy."