Worried residents are demanding that a supermarket chain holds-off on demolishing a historic pub until it gets planning permission to build a new budget store.
This week the Epsom Guardian exclusively revealed that Lidl, which bought the Organ and Dragon on London Road, Ewell, from fast food outlet KFC in February, plans to demolish the historic ex-watering hole and build a new food store.
As the owner of the building, which does not have listed status and is not in a conservation area, it does not need permission from Epsom Council to demolish it, although it will need planning permission from the council to then develop a supermarket.
But residents fear that if the building is demolished before planning permission is granted for a new Lidl store, the site could sit empty for years, blighting the surrounding area.
Last year, residents rejoiced after KFC withdrew planning applications for the site of the old English pub and Thai restaurant, which shut in July 2012.
Epsom council's planning committee had twice rejected its attempts to convert it into a restaurant and takeaway on the grounds that it would adversely impact highway safety and efficiency - a concern which was upheld by the Government’s planning inspector when KFC appealed the first rejection.
And now concerned residents believe the same issues would be grounds for an even stronger refusal for a new Lidl supermarket.
Commenting on this website, EwellMan said: "It’s a crazy location for a supermarket and I doubt planners will give permission for it to be built based on that fact.
"But Lidl must not be allowed to demolish the building until planning is agreed otherwise it will lay an empty space for years.
"The problem with the supermarkets is they have massive amounts of cash so keeping the land for years/decades is not a problem as they know rises in value each year even if nothing is done with it."
Epsom Dan said: "You all started a petition to stop it from becoming a KFC now it's becoming Lidl. This building has history and should not be allowed to be demolished."
Angela M agreed: "Well done to all the campaigners who fought KFC and as a direct result may end up with a Lidl instead. Good work.
"I wonder how they can get permission at all though - if KFC was refused on the grounds of traffic, smell and littering, I'm pretty sure a supermarket would be just as bad - if not worse - on all counts.
"Incidentally, KFC remained sympathetic and co-operative during their ownership of this land, and had promised to retain the character of the original building that Lidl is going to demolish."
Unebalam said: "There is still time to knock up a petition to try to stop this building from being destroyed.
"In my experience if there is enough evidence that doing so would damage the company’s reputation and if the locals swore not to use the store then Lidl would think again."
What do you think about the ex-Organ and Dragon being demolished? Leave a comment below or contact Hardeep Matharu on the newsdesk by emailing email@example.com.