OWNERS of an East Worthing pub have revealed that Tesco wants to use the site for its 10th store in the town.
Punch Taverns said Tesco had shown interest in opening a new outlet at The Dolphin, in Dominion Road, but it was Punch’s preference for pubs to continue to trade as pubs.
But this situation could, however, change if Punch had vacant possession of the site.
Dolphin landlord David Stockton told the Herald that Tesco “have been negotiating with us for a year”.
Sarah Mala, of Punch Taverns’ communications team, told the Herald: “‘The site is still within our ownership and Mr David Stockton is our partner along with Ms M. Devay.
“We have had interest from Tesco and other retailers; however, we do not propose to agree any deal with any parties at present as our partner is still operating the site under the terms of his lease. As a pub company, it is always our preference that our pubs continue to trade as pubs.
“Should we find ourselves in a position where we have vacant possession of the site, we will then investigate all opportunities that are available to us.”
News of Tesco’s interest in the site came after Worthing Borough Council issued an enforcement notice regarding the unauthorised sale of motor vehicles at the Dolphin site.
Mr Stockton claimed he needed the car sales business in order to make running The Dolphin a viable proposition. He said there were seven years left on his lease
When the matter went before the council’s planning committee on May 29, officers recommended that Mr Stockton be allowed to sell no more than three vehicles at any one time from The Dolphin’s eastern boundary with Dominion Road.
But the committee said it was not prepared to “under-enforce“ by allowing the sale of three cars on the site.
It was agreed that no car sales should be allowed from the site, and a compliance period of one month was imposed on the enforcement notice.
Mr Stockton said after the meeting: “Worthing Council and their planning stooges are undemocratic and dictatorial, this is why I refuse to attend their planning meetings and refuse to negotiate with them. They try to portray themselves as ‘mindful of the current economic system’, yet they don’t let me earn enough money to pay my business rates. It seems like anybody who tries to work for a living is seen as some kind of threat.”
* A requested comment from Tesco was not forthcoming by the time the Herald went to press.