SUSPICIONS are growing that an empty pub in Great Sutton could become a Tesco store.

The derelict Sutton Way Hotel has been blighted with vandalism and trespassers breaking into the boarded-up pub.

Now permission has been granted to GRS Estates, the owner of the building on Thelwall Road, Great Sutton, to be adapted so a large fenced-off delivery area, a new car park and disabled access ramps can be added to the plot.

A number of outbuildings and small extensions would be demolished and the building, unoccupied since 2008, would be fully refurbished to enable it be reoccupied.

In the car park, 25 spaces would be laid out including two disabled bays according to plans by Archer Architects.

The firm’s website describes the practice as having been involved with Tesco Express for more than six years.

Agent EdgePlan Ltd says no occupier has been identified but the refurbishment is likely to allow the building to be brought into use in due course for the community.

For the developer, agent Deborah Smith said the car park would still be used by the adjacent shops.

She described the site as ‘an eyesore’ but suggested the premises could be put to a number of uses and the developer is prepared to invest in the property.

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

But, given the lack of consultation, they felt the applicants should be strongly encouraged to engage with the community.

“The difficulty with this application is that it doesn’t require a change of use to become something very different,” said Cllr Angela Claydon (Lab). “My concern is what is this going to be there. There is quite a secrecy about it, the applicants have not told us who their clients are. I have my suspicions but they have not told us.”

She believed the pub would become a small supermarket and had no objection to that, although she was concerned about the future of a post office in a Spar store on the opposite side of the road. She also pointed out the community had always been able to use the pub car park.

Development planning manager Fiona Edwards replied: “The agent in the room has obviously heard your concerns Cllr Claydon and that is as far as this committee can take it.”