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‘Come on Tesco . . . rid us of this mess’
NEIGHBOURS of a derelict pub in South Oxford say the Tesco-owned site has become dangerously run-down and is attracting street drinkers.
They are demanding the supermarket giant clears the land and pushes ahead with its new grocery store immediately.
The Rev Jane Sherwood, vicar of St Luke’s Church in Canning Crescent, even put up a banner outside the pub on Monday which said ‘Welcome to the Olympic Flame. Sorry about the state of this site – it belongs to Tesco’.
She added: “At a Neighbourhood Forum at the church last week, residents complained about the crumbling wall that poses a risk to passers-by, especially children.
“If Tesco is not going to give a timetable for the new store then it should at least go ahead and demolish the pub at the earliest possible opportunity.”
In January, Tesco was given planning permission to open a Tesco Express on the site, with four flats above. But no work has yet been carried out and Tesco has declined to say when contractors will start to demolish the building on the corner of Weirs Lane and Abingdon Road.
Former Cowley car worker Allan Harris, 84, who lives with wife Cecelia Harris, 73, said vegetation at the rear of the pub had damaged a fence separating the site from his back garden.
He added: “Last year, vegetation grew over my carport and when I asked Tesco to come and clear it away they did.
“Now I want them to come and fix the fence because I want my garden to be properly secure.
“There’s a wall alongside the site in Weirs Lane which is crumbling and needs to be fixed.
“People round here want the pub to be demolished as soon as possible and the store to be built.”
More than 300 people signed a petition backing Tesco’s plans for the pub, which was seriously damaged by a fire in 2009.
Tesco bought the pub in 2008 and had to submit five planning applications before getting permission from the city council’s west area planning committee.
Former HGV driver Jim Webb, 78, who also lives in Weirs Lane, added: “On Wednesday night there were quite a few dossers outside the pub and I heard lots of shouting.
“And a couple of weeks ago there was shouting and swearing in the early hours.”
Tesco spokesman Simon Petar said: “It remains our intention to build the Tesco Express store and we will let residents know when we have more information.
“We will ensure that all necessary maintenance to the site is carried out.”
Mr Petar said once building work started, it would take up to a year to complete.
In April, residents in Faringdon expressed concern when it emerged that Tesco was unlikely to open a store in the town until 2014, despite getting planning permission for the Park Road site last year.