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Frustration as Tesco fences off public footpath
TESCO is facing a backlash after it fenced off a public footpath and a piece of green space at a controversial site in Marston.
The company has been planning since 2008 to turn the old Friar pub at the corner of Marston Road and Old Marston Road into a supermarket despite local opposition.
With work yet to begin Tesco has erected a fence around the site because of concerns about its state of repair.
But the fence has sparked uproar as residents claim it is blocking off a public footpath and much-loved green space.
Crotch Crescent resident Eric Perkins, 54, accused Tesco of using “bully boy tactics”.
He said: “This fence has blocked off the footpath in front of the old pub and also the area of grass and trees in front of that.
“In Marston we are very passionate about our green space and our trees because it gives a feeling of open space to the area.
“There was no public notice about this fence. Someone just turned up and started to erect it, blocking off a public right of way.”
County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “Contractors working for Tesco have erected a fence which encroached on to the highway and we have informed them that it must be removed from this area.
“When the company begins drawing up plans for the building works we will discuss with them the exact working area that they will need so that we can agree and license any fencing.”
Tesco has had planning permission to turn the building into a supermarket since June 2011 after planning inspector Andrew Pykett ruled on appeal in the company’s favour.
This sparked fears about the future of trees near the pub, which were planted on Armistice Day 1950 to commemorate the people of Marston who died in the Second World War.
The fears were allayed when Tesco revealed it would save the trees, but work has yet to begin on the site.
A group of local residents has also attempted to gain control of the area of grass outside the pub via a common law process called adverse possession, where members of the public can taken physical control over land with the aim of owning it.
Roger Baycock, who runs saxophone shop Allegro Oxford opposite the site, was part of the attempt to gain ownership of the land.
He said: “This land does not belong to Tesco and we don’t accept this fencing is necessary.”
Tesco spokesman Simon Petar said the additional fence was installed following discussions with the city council to add security to the car park and the former beer garden at the back.
Meanwhile, Tesco is still refusing to give a firm timetable for a new store on the site of the derelict Fox and Hounds pub in Abingdon Road, South Oxford.