TIME is being called on Halesowen's The Maypole pub by Dudley Council planning officers after they supported its demolition and replacement with a supermarket despite a storm of protest.

And the recommendation to Tuesday's (Sept 1) planning development control meeting to approve proposals from the New River Retail Property Unit Trust comes despite the council recently granting the Bassnage Road pub "asset of community value (ACV)" status.

Campaigners fighting to save the Maypole have raised more than 500 names on a petition since the Halesowen News first revealed it was under threat.

Planners have also received 27 individual letters of objection to the scheme to replace the pub with a Co-op supermarket.

The officers say the fact that the Maypole is an "asset of community value" status is "not a material planning consideration", although they acknowledge the 1950s pub contributes "towards the local character and distinctiveness of the area".

In their recommendation they say: "Whilst the loss of the public house building is regrettable it is not a heritage asset."

They also say the development would not have an adverse impact upon the "vitality or viablility" of nearby local centres or residential amenity and would have a "positive impact in investment and regeneration terms".

The Highway Authority has raised no objection to the scheme, although objectors have concerns about a potential lack of parking and difficulties of access for delivery and service vehicles.

Hayley Green and Cradley South Councillor Jeff Hill, who has backed the campaign to save the Maypole, said the supermarket would cause extra noise and traffic disruption for residents.

He said: "I am disappointed that the officers didn't think this would cause problems.

"There was a petition with hundreds of names and a significant number of individual letters against the proposal - but no letters of support."

The "asset of community value" status gives community groups the right to make a bid to buy the pub.

"It places more of a burden upon the developers when applying for planning permission and make the process more drawn out for New River - but there is no obligation for any bid to buy the pub to be accepted," said Councillor Hill.

The planning officers' report recommends approval with conditions, including restrictions on noise from the supermarket and a rule limiting the times when deliveries can be made to the store.

The report says: "The proposed foodstore would provide a community facility and enhance the range of shopping facilities in the local area, whilst providing additional employment opportunities."

Geoff Dixon, chairman of the Friends of the Maypole group, said he did not believe the planners could legally approve the proposal because the Maypole was now an asset of community value.

He added: "If they approve this, we will be looking into raising funds for a legal battle."