Housing plan for long-closed former pub targeted by arsonists and vandals

A disused former pub could be turned into a series of new homes if planners approve.

The former Horse & Jockey in Whitchurch
The former Horse & Jockey in Whitchurch

English Construction, based in Shrewsbury, has applied to Shropshire Council for permission to demolish the former Horse & Jockey pub, at the junction of Claypit and Church Street in Whitchurch.

The developer wants to replace the building with three new units made up of nine homes – one unit of four single-bed homes, a semi-detached unit of two two-bed homes, and a unit with three homes – one one-bed, one two-bed, and one three-bed.

A planning statement from The Planning Group submitted to the council explains that the property had been marketed as a pub since it had been bought – but no interest has been forthcoming.

It states: "English Construction purchased the site in 2007 after the pub had been closed by the previous owners, a pension company, as it had become unviable as a trading pub.

"The site has been left empty since that date a total of 15 years ago, and has been marketed for a significant period of time by Halls, with no offers being received.

"In the interim period all buildings have been subject to significant vandalism, petty theft and has been subject to two arson attacks and been hit by an articulated lorry."

Shropshire Council had issued a Section 25 notice to the owners in 2021 – the notice requires that landowners carry out repairs to buildings in a poor state.

In the planning statement the applicant says that a survey carried out had recommended the buildings are knocked down and replaced.

It states: "The structural engineer's report carried out by Thomas Consulting concluded that the buildings on site are not viable to be retained and as such it recommends that they are demolished to allow for redevelopment."

The report also describes the idea of the pub re-opening as "unrealistic".

It states: "The public’s use of public houses and bars has changed with a resultant loss in trade and the pub has been shut for 15 years. There are other public houses/wine bars, cafes et cetera within the surrounding area and it would be very difficult for a pub to re-establish itself having been closed for so long.

"Hence the prospect of the pub re-opening and being financially viable is unrealistic and, indeed, having had the potential noise and disturbance removed for 15 years may now not be welcomed by local residents."

The report adds: "The existing building has no future as a public house as it has been empty for 15 years and is beyond viable restoration as demonstrated in Thomas Consulting's report.

"Since the pub ceased trading there have been two major events in recent times that have to be acknowledged in any decision.

"Firstly, there was the impact of Covid on the licensing trade which has subsequently led to the closure of numerous pubs throughout the country.

"Secondly, the current financial situation has had a very significant impact on all businesses, perhaps none more so than the pub/hotel trade, and it would be grossly unreasonable to expect a very considerable investment to be made in the renovation of a building/pub in such a poor structural condition with minimal chance of being able to operate successfully in the future."

Shropshire Council will make a decision on the proposal at a later date.

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