Areley Kings First

Areley Kings First were formed to fight the proposal for a Tesco Express in the Squirrel pub.

Update December 9th 2015
Andrew Booton has been keeping a very close eye on the Squirrel Inn Pub situation and has been in constant contact with both the Agents, Punch Taverns and Tesco to make sure nothing happens without our knowledge. At this moment in time there have been no new developments in the Squirrel situation. There were one or two interested parties, but the very high asking price of £600,000 maybe putting off perspective buyers.

The money raised to support Areley Kings First in our fight against Tesco is safely deposited in the Coop Bank.
If it is not required for any further action, Areley Kings 1st Committee decided it would be donated to good causes in Areley Kings. If this should become the case, notices will be posted in Londis Store, Taylors Newsagents, Lloyds Garage and both Areley Kings and the Walsh’s Village Halls, for groups to apply. AK1st Committee would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thank you for your support.

Update – March 25th 2015

Firstly the Squirrel is not up for sale as a freehold property as many of you may have seen on the internet; it was a mistake by the previous selling agent and has been removed. Tesco’s have decided they are not going ahead with the development of a Tesco Express Store in Areley Kings. They have decided after all it would not be commercially viable. Areley Kings First have the Squirrel listed as an Asset of Community Value and are in communications with both Tesco and Punch Taverns to clarify the exact position of the Squirrel site. At this moment in time they have not come back to us with a clear picture, when they do we will keep everyone informed. Also we are in communication with them both, as to the possibility of allowing us to keep the Squirrel Site tidy & rubbish free and stop it from becoming an eyesore. We would like to thank all who have supported us this far and are hoping for your continued support in the future of the Squirrel Inn.

Areley Kings First will be holding a coffee morning in the Village Hall when we have more information.

To everyone in Areley Kings and surrounding areas that supported Areley Kings First, in our campaign to save the Squirrel Inn from becoming a Tesco Express.

The committee of Areley Kings First would like to say a very big thank you to you all. Without this type of support we would not have been able to take the fight against Tesco’s as far as we did, getting planning permission refused, then to an appeal hearing. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful at the appeal hearing.

However all is not lost, we can still vote with our feet!

Stan Gibson

Copy of the letter sent to the Shuttle & the Express & Star

Dear Sir,
Over the past year, your readers will have followed with interest the fight of Areley Kings First to prevent Tesco’s conversion of The Squirrel pub in Areley Kings.  From the earliest stages, it was obvious that the Areley Kings community was bitterly opposed to this development, so we got off our backsides and did something about it.

We raised a petition of over 2000 names to reject Tesco’s proposal. We defeated Tesco’s application with a unanimous rejection by Stourport Town Council. We convinced Wyre Forest District Council’s Planning Committee to reject the proposal by 14-2 votes.  We listed the pub as an Asset of Community Value with a view to revitalising it after years of neglect by Punch Taverns, its owner.  The community of Areley Kings took every single opportunity available to them, from the powers of the Localism Act to effective lobbying of our councillors.  The councillors listened and acted.

Unfortunately, the whole thing folded when it reached the end of the democratic process and was entrusted to a single person.   A planning inspector, earnest and well qualified though she was, sat alone in deliberation over this case. In no other public process does this happen.  Employment matters are judged in tribunals of 3 people. Legal appeals are heard by a bench of 3 judges. Serious matters in the United Kingdom are never entrusted to one person alone, except in planning – arguably the only area which affects everyone in a community.

We are disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate felt unable to recognise the strength of local voices. These people know and care for their community better than remote corporate giants or rule-bound planning inspectors.  Behind the rules are everyday lives that will be adversely affected by Tesco’s proposal.  Not least 42 jobs in Areley Kings are at stake and 16 local suppliers, as well as services to the elderly and housebound in our community.  Yet another Post Office is at stake of closure.

Tesco won their appeal.  We are disappointed that, even in times of financial pressure and with their reputation damaged, Tesco ignored local peoples’ wishes.  They just ploughed on with an unwanted development.  Make no mistake, though; our campaign was not just against Tesco.  We would have done the same if we’d been faced by any other supermarket chain.

Nevertheless, we did our best and we are very grateful to everyone who has supported the efforts of Areley Kings First and who contributed so tirelessly and diligently to the campaign.

Yours faithfully,
Andrew Booton & Stanley Gibson (Areley Kings First)

Planning Appeal Decision

The decision by the Planning Inspectorate has given Tesco the go ahead to extend the site of the Squirrel pub and create an Express store in its place.

In her judgement, Inspector Mrs Jennifer Vyse accepted that there would be a significant increase in traffic, but was satisfied with Tesco’s proposed conditions to control delivery times and vehicles, implement a ‘one way in and one way out’ access and provide on-site parking and loading bays. She also added that the local highways authority raised no concerns about highways and pedestrian safety. Mrs Vyse also considered other concerns raised by objectors to the store including an increase in noise and disturbance, but concluded that the overall benefits of the scheme outweighed any adverse impact suffered. She did acknowledge the strong local feeling against this proposal and noted that residents would be disappointed with the decision.

Stanley Gibson, said: “Naturally we are very disappointed with this decision, but it was a fair hearing and the Inspector listened to all our concerns so there are no complaints with that. All the concerns we have raised with this application still remain, but we will have a committee meeting to discuss what we are going to do next.”


  • Chair: Stanley Gibson 01299 821063


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