CRUNCH talks will be held to decide if a derelict pub in Great Sutton should become a Tesco Express store.

The Sutton Way Hotel on Thelwall Road which is currently boarded up, has been blighted with vandalism and is described by locals as an ‘eyesore’.

Earlier this year permission was granted to the building’s owners GRS Estates, to adapt the land so a large fenced-off delivery area, a new car park and disabled access ramps could be added to the plot.

At the time there was no mention of who would occupy the premises but Tesco recently applied for a cash machine and to partly cover a proposed service yard at the property.

Although no objections were raised by neighbours consulted, the Pioneer understands Tesco has written to councillors to request a meeting to be held for residents to express their concerns about the potential development.

Speaking on behalf of the developers, agent Deborah Smith said that the car parking would still be available to be used by nearby shops.

She suggested the premises could be put to ‘a number of uses’ and the developer is prepared to invest in the property to bring it up to a standard where an operator could take it on.

“There haven’t been objections and it can only be a positive thing to bring this building into use,” she said.

In a letter to the borough’s planning committee, Sutton ward councillor Paul Donovan (Lab), who called the application in, said local councillors would support ‘any application of long-term benefit to the local residential and business community’.

But given the lack of consultation by GRS Estates they felt the applicants should be ‘strongly encouraged’ to engage in meaningful community involvement and consultation before any further development on the site.

Cllr Angela Claydon (Lab) said: “The difficulty with this application is that it doesn’t require a change of use to become something very different.

“There’s quite a secrecy about it, the applicants haven’t told us who their clients are, they haven’t told us who is coming there though I have my suspicions.”

She added: “I know competition isn’t a planning matter but there’s a Spar right opposite there and we fought some time ago to keep the post office which was a few doors away.

“It’s a big estate, there are lots of flats around and people wanted there to be a post office.

“We cannot turn it down because whoever opens there might be in competition with the Spar but I am concerned about the future of that post office and what would happen to it.”

Development planning manager Fiona Edwards said: “The agent are able to change the use of the building to a variety of uses without planning permission and they may resolve to do that.”