The Sportsman pub saved after food shop plans thrown out
Jubilant campaigners are celebrating after planning chiefs unanimously turned down a controversial application to turn a popular Black Country pub into a supermarket.
A busy public gallery applauded and cheered Sandwell Council's planning committee's decision to refuse Heron Foods' bid to take over the site of The Sportsman, in Tipton.
It follows a long-standing battle from campaigners to save the pub – with nearly 900 signatures having been collected in opposition to the plans.
They returned to the pub following the verdict on Wednesday night to celebrate the news.
Heron Foods wanted to create a new shop on the site of The Sportsman, in St Mark's Road, despite it still being open for business.
But the council's planning committee unanimously voted to refuse the application.
The Sportsman has been a fixture of the area for around 50 years and customers have written to MP Adrian Bailey asking him to back the campaign.
The pub is owned by New River Retail which has overseen changes of many of its pubs to shops over recent years.
Campaigner James Marsh said: "The Sportsman has been part of the community for decades – it is the only place left for residents to socialise and support each other.
"There are no other community buildings to be used in the area.
"It is used by a great deal of old people in the area. There have been a number of fundraising activities including a defibrillator for a local school and a helmet for a local child.
"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.
"There are other shops in the area that are run by people who known by the residents and they part of the community.
"There are a number of shops already providing what we need.
"We are all over the moon that the planning committee turned down the application and we all came back to The Sportsman to celebrate.
"We were expecting the vote to go the other way so we were really surprised and pleased."
Steve Causer added: "I am absolutely over the moon that The Sportsman has been saved.
"I have been using that pub for around 37 years so when I heard they wanted to turn it into a shop it was disheartening.
"We have fought it and we have won which is great. We were totally expecting it to go the other way at the meeting but everyone at the council backed us."
Ahead of Wednesday evening's meeting, Sandwell Council had received 230 objection letters and three petitions with a combined 893 signatures.
Councillor Julie Webb said: "I have been to the pub a few times, coming from Tipton I know it well. It has been in the community for many years and the current landlord has built up a reputation.
"There are too many applications of buying pubs and turning them into supermarkets."