Oldham Council has revealed that 60 complaints have been lodged by residents opposed to the planned Co-op in Grotton.
The supermarket wants to turn the old Grotton Hotel into a store and has applied for a licence to sell alcohol from 6am to 11pm, moves which have angered many local people and traders.
The council’s Licensing Panel will consider the application at a meeting next Tuesday, 21 June.
According to papers published by the council ahead of that meeting, local borough councillors Barbara Beeley and Adrian Alexander have also formally objected, along with officials from Environmental Health. Just one response in favour of the Co-op has been received.
Summarising the 60 complaints from residents, the council document states they mostly raise concerns about a possible increase in noise and anti-social behaviour which could result from giving the new Co-op an alcohol licence.
The Licensing Panel is not allowed to consider other aspects of the objections, such as the impact the Co-op might have on other local businesses, or any traffic and road safety issues.
Cllr Beeley, a Liberal Democrat for Saddleworth West and Lees, is herself a member of the panel, and so registered her comments in a personal capacity. On the idea of opening for 17 hours a day, she stated: “These hours seem to be excessive when compared to the agreed hours for other establishments in the area.”
She added: “Whilst there have not been any complaints recently we have had incidents of underage drinkers on Station Road, Grotton, in the past. These have caused concern to the residents and the police and council have acted to resolve these issues.”
Cllr Alexander, a newly-elected Labour member for the same ward, wrote: “Granting a licence to 11pm will, in my opinion and that of local residents, encourage late-night drinking to midnight and beyond by groups of underage teenagers.”
He referred to the “huge amount of concern” in the local area about the Co-op’s application. Cllr Alexander added that, if the panel were to approve a licence, it should be for the hours of 9am to 9pm only.
The Environmental Health objection said the Co-op had “not fully considered public nuisance” in its application, and suggested hours of 8am to 11pm, with 9am opening on Sundays.
Last week, Mark Hughes, one of the owners of the Grotton Hotel who has run the pub for the past few years, used this website to defend his decision to deal with the Co-op.
He commented: “If the local community had shown more support the pub may have been successful. Do you really want another Star Inn or Bridge Inn pub sat there falling down making the area look a disgrace? The Co-op will bring a new lease of life to Grotton, this really was the best option as we were pursued by McDonalds, KFC, and various other companies.”
In a recent statement to Saddleworth News, the Co-op said: “We hope to serve the local community by providing quality products and excellent customer service.”
No specific planning permission is required to turn the old pub into a shop. However, it’s thought the Co-op would be unlikely to open on the site without an alcohol licence, so the Licensing Panel can effectively decide whether the store can go ahead or not.
Next Tuesday’s meeting takes place at 9:30am in the Lees Suite at Oldham Civic Centre. All the paperwork associated with the application can be read at the council’s website here.
To get the perspective of some local traders and to read more from the Co-op, see a previous article from Saddleworth News here.