Supermarket takeover in Barking and Dagenham as pub trade declines

Two of the borough’s former pubs are to be turned into Tesco Express stores and a third will be transformed into a place of worship.

The Railway Hotel, in Shafter Road, Dagenham and The Beacon, in Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, are to become supermarkets, with three flats set to be built above the Beacon.

The Hope, in Gascoigne Road, Barking, which closed in September last year, will become a Muslim community centre and place of worship, run by the Alnoor Cultural and Educational Trust.

Plans approved

Plans for the flats and the Muslim centre were approved at a development control board meeting at Barking Town Hall on Monday.

Planning permission is not needed to turn a pub into a shop, however permission was granted for Tesco to install a cash machine at the Railway Hotel, make alterations to the external appearance of the building, such as doors, and to change the signage. The old Railway Hotel sign will remain.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dave Miles, who lives near the Railway Hotel, said it was “a shame” to see pubs like the Railway closing but admitted residents would welcome a Tesco store.

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“A lot of people want convenience stores like this, and I get the impression residents living in my area are happy that one is opening there,” he said.

“However, some of the local shops are concerned it will affect their business.”

The pub plans come as Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) revealed 12 pubs now shut in Britain every week, with 300 having closed permanently in the past six months.

Around six pubs have closed in Barking and Dagenham in the past five years, including The Railway Hotel, The Beacon, The Hope, The Captain Cook in Axe Street, Barking, The Red Lion, in North Street, Barking, and The Britannia, in Church Road, Barking.

The Post reported last month, that one of the borough’s oldest pubs, The Spotted Dog in Station Parade, Barking, is under threat. Manager Russell Hume said the pub, which opened in 1870, had suffered years of tough trading and may not survive long term.

He, and many other pub managers and owners, have blamed the demise of the pubs on a combination of factors, including the smoking ban, cheap supermarket alcohol, ongoing increases on duty on alcohol and the changing demographic of some areas.

Cllr Miles said pubs in the borough need to reinvent themselves if they want to thrive.

“A lot of these pubs that have been forced to close weren’t changing with the times.

“Pubs these days need to make themselves stand out, by for example focusing on producing good food or different types of beers and ales and offer good deals that people can afford.”