“I don’t want a pub next door,” – that is the view of the woman who set up a petition to oppose JD Wetherspoon’s ambitious plans.
Lorraine Ochocinska lives across the road from the Corn Exchange, which is earmarked for a dramatic £1.3million transformation.
But the concerned St Michael’s Square resident is critical of the scheme, fearing an increase in noise and disturbance to nearby residents and claiming the town doesn’t need another pub.
And she claims that many people living close to the site are also against the plans to turn the derelict Corn Exchange into a new pub.
The 54-year-old says her petition attracted close to two A4 pages of signatures from residents in the area and has been handed in to the council. I don’t want a pub next door and the general feeling with nearby residents is that they don’t want it,” she said. “It is okay for people to say that they want it, but how many of them will be living next door or close by?
“Housing would have made more sense.”
The proposals state that there will be a new external drinking area and hours of trading listed are Mondays to Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 7am to 12.30am, and Saturdays, 7am to 1.30am.
Lorraine said: “It is going to be open early in the mornings and open until late in the evenings. I don’t want noise at that time of night or that time of the morning. And why they need a beer garden is beyond me.”
Lorraine also claims that the development of the beer garden will stop access to the Roxbro car park from St Michael’s Square.
She said: “When the shops at the bottom are getting deliveries, we have to use that access, it is our only way out.”
Lorraine, who is a domestic support officer for Age UK, believes that a JD Wetherspoon establishment would harm town-centre trade. “We have got so many pubs and cafes in the town already – we don’t need any more. It will take trade away from the town,” she said.
On the potential impact to nearby residents, Eddie Gershon, who is a spokesman for JD Wetherspoon, said: “Most Wetherspoon pubs tend to be in towns or cities where there are residential areas. We ensure in a number of ways that we don’t cause disturbance to local residents. It is not in our interests to open up a pub and then upset the residents.
“We want to keep residents on side. If there are any issues at this stage then the company would be happy to meet residents, or if we open, and there is a disturbance, we would ask residents to tell us.”