Campaigners trying to block the development of the former George IV pub on Brixton Hill into a Tesco Express have secured the support of an influential MP.
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, is to write to the supermarket’s chief executive following a packed community meeting at Corpus Cristi church at which shopkeepers and residents made clear their resounding opposition to the convenience supermarket.
More than 100 people attended the Question Time-style event to quiz Tesco executive Matt Magee about the plans. Concerns raised included traffic safety, the loss of a popular arts space, the negative impact on local shops and the loss of Brixton Hill’s “unique” character.
Andrew Child, from the Save George IV campaign, said: “There is a real character to this community and increasingly it is being lost. There are 12 supermarkets within a one mile radius, we’re at a saturation point.”
He said that the George IV pub was more than a place to meet people, but was an arts venue populated with bands and DJs.
Writing in the Brixton Bugle this month, Mr Umunna said he will write to the Chief Executive of Tesco, Richard Brasher, to ensure the community’s voice was heard.
Building work has now begun at the site, and Tesco says it will press ahead with its plans despite having a planning application for car parking spaces and fencing turned down by Lambeth council.
Although the borough has a clear policy about protecting former pubs, it has emerged that the supermarket giant does not need permission to change its use to a food store.
At the meeting, Mr Magee said that Tesco would continue with their plans despite vocal opposition from those present.
He said: “This is a building owned by a private developer who wants to let the space as a shop. It has not been run successfully as a business for some time.
“Clearly there are some respected people at this meeting sharing their views, but that’s not everybody. We think it will be a popular store.”
Shop owner Mr Patel, who has run a convenience store in the area for “many years” said: “Tesco is talking about creating 20 jobs, but we will all lose 80 jobs when they are there. We care for people in our shops, but who is going to look after the elderly now?”
The Save the George IV Campaign meets every week. You can sign their petition at www.ipetitions.com and like them on Facebook.