Desperate protestors are threatening to go to the Charity Commission to try and stop a Tesco store planned in an old pub.

The Whitgift Foundation has agreed to allow the supermarket giant to open a shop in the old Swan and Sugarloaf pub in South End, Croydon.

Local businesses are worried the supermarket will destroy their trade but fear they are powerless to stop the development.

Tesco do not need planning permission to open a store in a pub, meaning locals cannot lodge any objections.

Charity Whitgift Foundation own the site and could stop the move but said it received no other offers for the site and, worried about it being in a derelict state and needing restoration, it accepted Tesco’s.

Campaigner Charlotte Davies has written to the Trustees of the Foundation imploring them to halt the plan.

She has started a petition she plans to give to the Foundation but has said she is willing to report them to the Charity Commission for the way they have handled their assets.

She said: “They have not made an effort to maintain their premises.

“They are the biggest property holder and they are obliged to maintain their fixed assets.

“What they do is so important for the recovery of the area.

“We believe that the behaviour of the Whitgift Foundation in letting the Swan and Sugarloaf to Tesco is threatening the livelihoods of many more than 20 people who are employed in running existing small shops including: 4 mini-markets; a bakery; 2 florists; a post office; a pharmacy; and a delicatessen.”

Georgio Raffaelli, owner of La Spezia cafe in Selsdon Road, echoed her feelings.

He said: “We are a community here. How do we know the jobs created will be taken by people living in Croydon?

“If it was an independent store then you say, 'ok - competition', but you cannot compete with Tesco.”

In a letter to Mrs Davies, a spokesman for the Whitgift Foundation said: “The only interest generated to lease the commercial building was from supermarket chains and Tesco offered us the capacity and resource to restore the building back to its former glory.

“The Whitgift Foundation is committed to working with the local community of South Croydon.”