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Aldi begins demolition job on former pub despite campaign to save it
Supermarket chain Aldi has begun to demolish the Old Oak Inn in Westbury despite a campaign to get the building preserved.
The race between the company building a new store and car park, and the campaigners hoping to save a piece of the town’s heritage, effectively came to an end when the diggers moved in on Wednesday.
Aldi declined to comment on the demolition work but, with English Heritage still preparing the application to ‘list’ the building, its 16th century ceiling beams and other historic features look likely to be lost.
Campaigner Alex Prowse, of Alfred Street, who has run an online petition to save the pub, said he believed Aldi would lose support in the town for rushing ahead with the demolition.
“I think they are going to find that the people of Westbury will not be supporting them – most of the people who have signed our petition are from the town,” he said.
“No one is against the store being there, it is good for the town, but it could have existed side-by-side with this wonderful building. To demolish it is sheer vandalism. We won’t forget what has happened.”
Aldi won permission to build on the former Oval Peugeot site in Warminster Road in 2008, and has been widely welcomed by the town.
Wiltshire and Westbury councillor Mike Cuthbert-Murray defended the company’s actions, saying many regard the derelict pub as an eye-sore. He said: “There has been no interest in that building for 10 years, why should anyone be able to come up with a use for it now?
“When it is demolished they will be widening the road and pavement along Warminster Road, which will make it safer for pedestrians.”