PUB and restaurant bosses in Ormskirk said the decision to allow a Wetherspoon's in the town could put their future in jeopardy.
West Lancs council has granted full planning permission for the pub chain to move into the two-storey Best DIY unit on Wheatsheaf Walk, behind Burscough Street.
It is understood the £1m scheme would create around 40 jobs. But following the decision Luis Abreu, from Left Bank Brasserie, said the decision could threaten family town businesses which will struggle to compete.
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Luis said: “If a Wetherspoon’s opens here we will all be in trouble. With the current recession situation, people will go for as cheap as possible and it will affect us all.
“I’m very disappointed it’s gone through, I don’t feel the effect on family businesses in the town has been considered. “I’ve spoken to other restaurants and everyone is concerned.”
Steve Bolger, of Deli Sabrosa, said the size of the site – the pub would feature a 3,389sq ft customer area catering for up to 419 people – was what worried him.
He said: “There’s other places they could have gone that are more suitable. Pubs on that scale can afford to discount prices and tenants in Ormskirk can’t react to that.”
Linda Roughley, landlady of the Plough, said it would take much-needed business away from other pubs.
Staff at Best DIY had put together a petition of more than 1,000 names against the plans, and spoke of fears that their jobs would be lost and customers would be left with little DIY choice in the town.
But Katie Givens, of Pandora’s Box, said she was “totally for” the pub coming into the town, saying the benefits outweighed the negatives.
Wetherspoon’s is now set to apply for a licence following the planning decision.
A spokesman said: “We are very happy planning has been granted, it’s a step in the right direction. But we are awaiting official confirmation from council to check conditions before we apply for a licence. We are not aware of any pubs going out of business when a Wetherspoon goes up. “In many other towns it has a knock-on effect of boosting local businesses. It’s for the customers to decide where they want to go – all we would be doing is putting another option in Ormskirk.”
A council spokesman said the borough planner was satisfied the development complied with planning policies as it would not detrimentally affect the vitality and viability of Ormskirk town centre, nor result in a loss of residential amenity.