Co-op shelves plans to open village shop

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PLANS to convert a derelict village pub into a shop have been dropped.

Lincolnshire Co-operative has revealed it has dropped its proposal to turn the fire-damaged King’s Head pub in Morton into a shop.

The firm says planning restrictions and highways issues have forced it to think again about the site it owns.

Villagers had petitioned against the plan as the village already has two shops and there were concerns about traffic.

Lincolnshire Co-operative spokesman Emma Snedden said: “We were looking forward to bringing the derelict site of the former King’s Head pub back into economic use for the community of Morton.

“However planning restrictions around maintaining the original building, combined with conflicting highways issues, means we feel we wouldn’t be able to turn the site into a food store that would provide the quality of service we aim to deliver.

“It’s disappointing but we’re still looking for opportunities in Morton.”

The 17th century building in Folkingham Road has been empty since the pub was ravaged by fire in what was believed to be an arson attack in 2007.

Chris Tidswell, principal highways officer at the county council, said there were highway concerns about the site access.

He said: “The former pub site has two accesses, one being directly off the A15, the other off the High Street.

“It had been suggested to the Co-op that the A15 access should not be used and indeed closed.

“The Co-op were made aware of our concerns over visibility on the corner of A15/High Street, and also that we would have been looking to provide a pedestrian crossing facility in the area.”

Mr Tidswell said while the Co-op could provide a small on-site car park for the store, potential on-street parking was also an issue that would need to be addressed.

He added: “Consequently, we advised them that traffic regulation orders to control parking and the issue of providing safe pedestrian crossing facilities would have been raised.”

Lincolnshire county councillor Sue Woolley (Con), who lives in Victoria Grove, Morton, said she had always had concerns about traffic issues in and around the

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site, as well as the ability for the village to support another food store as it already has two - Morton Post Office and Stores and Varij Stores.

She said: “We’ll wait and see if new plans are put forward for the site that might be more suitable for the area.”

Villagers protested against the Co-op’s plans in April last year by organising a petition which hundreds of people signed.

They were also worried the proposed shop would create extra traffic at the A15 crossroads.

Lincolnshire Co-op is considering other uses for the site now.

The company bought the shell, which was a 17th century building, from the Charles Wells Pub Company and had been in the process of drawing up a planning application to send to South Kesteven District Council.

A district council spokesman said: “The King’s Head pub is in a conservation area. The Co-op did not submit formal applications, however in pre-application discussions, the district council suggested that they put in proposals that were sympathetic to the surrounding area.

“The Co-op has decided not to proceed with a formal application.”