THE REJECTION of a bid to turn a former supermarket into a Wetherspoons pub has been welcomed.

Community leaders in Brighton’s London Road said the arrival of the pub chain could have turned the resurgent street into another West Street.

Brighton and Hove City Council planning officers turned down J D Wetherspoon’s application to convert the former Co-op department store.

Officers said the proposals would cause a loss of prime retail space and in addition would introduce an extra drinking establishment into an area which is already well served by pubs and bars.

Concerns were also raised about potential noise issues while proposed changes to include a seating area, balustrades, plinth and aluminium doors would create an “incongruous shopfront”.

The pub firm are now considering a possible appeal of the decision for the site which has undergone a dramatic renovation since Co-op closed the store in 2007.

More than 350 University of Sussex students are accommodated on the upper floors while catering equipment firm Nisbets and The Gym Group have recently moved in to remodelled retail units.

Philip Wells, chairman of the London Road Local Action Team said: “When planning permission for the Co-op was granted, it was an issue that was given a lot of thought and the original agreement was it should be retail because it was felt that was what London Road needed.

“We didn’t think it was right for a company to try and upset that balance that had been carefully thought through.

“We felt the balance of retail and restaurants and pubs was good and we didn’t want to tip the balance in favour of alcohol and we didn’t want London Road to become like West Street,” he added.

Mr Wells criticised Wetherspoons’ failure to engage with the community during the application process, claiming figures from the company turned down several opportunities to address the local action team and residents.

J D Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon’s has always been keen to open a pub in London Road in Brighton.

“Although we are disappointed by the decision we respect the views of the planning officers.

“We will decide in due course whether we will appeal the decision.”

The story so far

LONDON Road has gone from one of the most run-down in the city to one of the most up-and-coming in a few short years.

Major developments such as new student halls of residence and Open Market have kickstarted a buzz in the bustling road.

The arrival of trendy nightspots and cafes MEATliquor, Hare and Hounds, The Joker and Presuming Ed have also contributed to the area’s regeneration.

With creative and digital professionals working at nearby New England House Some have gone further and described London Road as “the new Shoreditch”.