Residents in Boston Spa are looking ahead to the public inquiry due to be held following Tesco’s bid to take over the former Crown Hotel.
The Crown Hotel closed in 2012. Since that time an application was entered by Tesco to confirm the use of the now vacant building as a public house, allowing them to turn it into a Tesco Express without seeking change of use.
However, many people from the village, including parish council members, argued that the Crown Hotel was a hotel and this application was rejected by Leeds City Council (LCC).
This decision is now subject to appeal and a public inquiry is to be held into the issue for three days from September 16 in the village hall.
Coun Tim Baker said: “All the routine evidence we have submitted was as LCC requested and it says on a broad basis that all the people in the locality consider it to be a building that has some hotel use.
“Initially, Tesco thought they were going to just open because it was a pub, but LCC’s internal solicitor said he wasn’t sure.
“External solicitors came back and said it has enough use as a hotel, so Tesco, if they want to operate, had to apply for change of use because you can’t go from a hotel to a Tesco.
“That is what they are fighting, and the reason they are fighting this as they are is perhaps that they are using it as a test case for other buildings in the future.”
The public inquiry will see an independent inspector judge the argument from Tesco against the LCC decision.
It may take some time for an official decision to be reached, as the definition is a legal one over primary and ancillary use at the Crown Hotel.
Coun Baker added: “Where we are coming from as the parish council there is no evidence they have provided that says if they open it will improve the village.
“They say that the store will increase footfall but they won’t provide any facts or figures to support that.
“We are on the ground here and the overriding feeling we get from residents is no thank you, we don’t want a Tesco instead of our last remaining hotel. It isn’t a hate campaign. We are just ordinary people taking on the giants of Tesco.”
Tesco believe that the primary use of the building was as a pub and will submit evidence to support this.
Spokesman Mark Thomas said: “We believe that a convenience store in Boston Spa will provide a great service to the community.
“A Tesco Express at the site of The Crown would create up to 20 new jobs and complement the village’s specialist shops.”