RESIDENTS in a Waterside village were furious when they discovered that their only pub was set to become a convenience store.

Now another popular watering hole just a few miles down the road is about to suffer the same fate, fuelling fears that Britain’s “weak” planning laws are resulting in too many locals being turned into shops.

Supermarket bosses have drawn up plans to convert the former Croft pub in Langdown Lawn, Hythe, into a Tesco Express.

It comes just weeks after the Hampshire Yeoman in Blackfield closed after almost 60 years to make way for a Sainsbury’s Local.

Hythe councillor Malcolm Wade warned that plans to turn the Croft into a similar outlet could damage an existing convenience store in nearby Fairview Parade.

“I’d hate to see a new shop open, only for another one to close,” he said.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) claims more than 200 pubs across the UK have been turned into convenience stores since January 2010.

Camra is urging the Government to change the planning laws, which enable watering holes to be converted without the consent of the local council.

Chief executive Mike Benner said: “Pubs are being targeted for development by supermarket chains due to non-existent planning controls that allow supermarkets to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community.

“At a time when 18 pubs are closing every week this is damaging a great British institution.”

The Croft, part of the Hythe’s social scene since 1955, shut in November after the building was sold by the Spirit Pub Company. The former country house has already been boarded up.

A Tesco spokesman said the new store, expected to open in the next few months, would employ about 20 people.

The former pub is just a few miles from the Hampshire Yeoman, which is due to reopen next spring as a Sainsbury’s Local.

Villagers fought to save the facility, saying it had been at the heart of the community since the 1950s.

They claimed that a convenience store would attract extra traffic to Blackfield, endangering the safety of children walking to and from the village school, and also warned that some of the existing shops would be driven out of business by their new rival. But Sainsbury’s has defended the scheme, saying it will give shoppers greater choice.