A decision to save a popular local pub from closure was met by cheers and applause by its locals at Sandwell’s planning committee.
Shouts of joy came from the public gallery as councillors last night (Wednesday) rejected plans to convert the Sportsman public house in Tipton into a mini supermarket.
Regulars had turned out to oppose an application by Heron Foods to close the bar on St Marks Road and redevelop it into a local food store.
Councillors were told three petitions with almost 900 signatures had been received opposing the scheme.
What did residents say?
James Marsh, opposing the application, told the committee: "The Sportsman has been part of the community for decades, it is now the only place left for residents to socialise and support each other.
"There are no other community buildings to be used in the area.
"Opening a store would have a negative impact, it would increase crime with shoplifting and youths congregating on the car park.
"The roads by the pub are very narrow and are often blocked by people's cars.
"Whatever road the delivery vehicles use they will have to pass the nearby nursery and health centre."
'This pub has been in the community for many years'
Cllr Julie Webb, commenting that representatives for the applicants had not attended the meeting, said: “I have been to the pub a few times, coming from Tipton I know it well.
"This pub has been in the community for many years and the current landlord has built up a reputation.
“There are too many applications of this sort, people buying pubs expecting them to be turned into supermarkets and it’s a shame that the nether Heron Foods or their representatives haven’t got the guts to come this committee and put their case.
"I will be supporting the objectors.”
Members of the committee also raised concerns about heavy vehicles delivering goods to the proposed store and their impact on nearby properties.
As chairman of the committee, Cllr Paul Sanders, announced the unanimous decision to reject the application, protestors in the public gallery burst into cheers and applause.