Protestors resist Tesco plans for Lillington's Walnut Tree pub

Campaigners in Lillington are determined to do everything they can to prevent their pub being converted to a Tesco store.

The retailer bought the former Walnut Tree in Crown Way two months ago and the building is currently boarded up.

But a group of residents and almost 300 supporters have not yet given up their fight to save the pub.

Warwick District Council's planning committee will decide whether to approve four applications submitted by Tesco at a meeting on Wednesday.

Officers at the council have recommended that the committee approve all four proposals.

Campaigner Jane Padginton said: "One of our biggest arguments is the disruption to the neighbourhood the site would actually cause.

"Deliveries in the early morning would be made by 44ft lorries. Given that the pub used to have two or three deliveries a week, it's quite a monumental difference.

"It will cause traffic problems as well – and you get a lot of delays here anyway."

Members of the Save the Walnut Tree group, who have gathered the support of 286 people on Facebook – including MP Greg Mulholland and Emmerdale actress Elizabeth Estensen – are planning to attend the district council meeting next week, taking a 3,000 signature petition with them.4

They have been meeting every Tuesday evening for the past few months and two members travelled to London to gain advice from other groups who have campaigned against Tesco.

Ms Padginton said: "It was quite inspiring to see how many campaign groups have won their battles.

"We are all still determined. It's difficult for clubs and groups to find a venue that's accessible and affordable within the Lillington area.

"It would be great if we could run the site as a community initiative. If nothing else, even if we are not successful, we hope Tesco might think about addressing the needs of the community.

"It's a case of 'wait and see'."

Tesco's corporate affairs manager Juliet Bishop said: "One of the reasons it is not a pub any more is that it is not commercially viable. Tesco does not have a part in that.

"Of course we will address the needs of the community.

"We have already been doing so through the planning process, for example we asked residents in the area for suggestions on our landscaping plans."

She added: "Every store has its deliveries timed to what is appropriate to that area.

"It's only a convenience store so it's not going to have a huge amount of deliveries.

"In terms of traffic, it will not be much different to a pub which is doing well."

The planning committee meeting will take place at Leamington town hall on Wednesday at 6pm.

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