Villagers 'want their pub back' after venue shut since 2016 is put up for sale again

Villagers near Telford 'want their pub back' after a long-closed venue was put on the market again, before being withdrawn from sale a few days later.

The Cleveland Arms in High Ercall is listed for sale more than six years after it closed
The Cleveland Arms in High Ercall is listed for sale more than six years after it closed

The Cleveland Arms in High Ercall has been shut since 2016, leaving the villagers near Telford without a pub ever since.

After being put up for sale in 2019, it was listed for sale on Rightmove under Savills - which took over James A Baker, the agent that dealt with previous listings - at the beginning of October.

The listing disappeared earlier this week, however on Thursday afternoon a spokesman for Savills said it was due to them reinstating the James A Baker branding, which led to the previous listing being removed. He said the new advert was not yet live due to a "Rightmove delay".

No price was advertised on the original Rightmove listing, though the website of estate agent James A Baker - where the pub was still marketed for sale on Thursday afternoon - advertises a price of £285,000 plus VAT.

The Shropshire Star has reached out to the owners, John Hickinbottom and Susan King, through James A Baker/Savills, but has so far not received a response.

The Cleveland Arms listed for sale on the James A Baker website on October 13

Few details have been put on the listing, although photos from inside show the rooms in a state of disrepair with piles of bricks, exposed beams and floorboards missing.

The relisting of The Cleveland Arms comes a month after planning permission to turn it into a house was refused, and is the latest stage in the ongoing saga over its future.

The pub closed in January 2016 due to structural problems, a move which was described as 'tearing the heart out' of the community. In December 2018 John Hickinbottom and Susan King were given six months to reopen the pub or vacate the premises by Telford & Wrekin Council.

The pair moved out in June 2019, with Mr Hickinbottom saying they had spent "well over £300,000 on refitting the kitchen and cellar, replacing the water systems, drains and heating, refurbishing the first floor and a complete redecoration of the ground floor trade areas", but said another £1 million was needed to bring it up to standard.

In August 2019 the pub was first put up for sale. Ercall Magna Parish Council has wanted to reopen the pub and has worked with village community group, the Cleveland Phoenix Charity to try and secure its future.

The notice put up outside the pub after it closed in early 2016

Chairman David Haston said: "It doesn't have to be us (who buys it). If a third party wanted to buy it we would help out in any way we can.

"We just want our pub back."

Mr Haston said High Ercall is the largest settlement in the Telford & Wrekin borough, outside of Telford and Newport, without a pub residents can walk to. But he's confident it would be successful if reopened, pointing at thriving pubs in smaller villages nearby.

Parish council chairman Kevin Connor echoed those comments, saying the community would be interested in running the venue as "some sort of pub-based facility".

High Ercall pic. Pub sign for the Cleveland Arms at High Ercall. Picture taken on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. There is a notice which says the pub is closed i.e... 'Our deep and sincere apologies to all our loyal customers. Due to ongoing adverse trading and major structural repairs and alterations being required, the Cleveland Arms public house has again been forced to close...' Pub closures. High Ercall pub. High Ercall village. Library code: High Ercall pic 2016. High Ercall 2016..

He continued: "We've got a community that's growing. We've got an extra 45 houses in High Ercall since the pub closed. That's another 45 families within walking distance and see what is effectively a derelict building."

However, the pub has so far not been sold, and planning applications to change its use have been rejected in the past.

Plans to convert part of it into a home, with partial demolition and the erection of a single-storey rear extension and two-storey side/rear extension to form a new public house with staff accommodation and letting studio were turned down in 2018.

And this year, plans to convert The Cleveland Arms into a three or four-bedroom house were also dismissed.

At a Telford & Wrekin Council planning committee meeting on August 31 councillors spoke against the application, saying there was a 'strong public demand to reopen the public house and there was disappointment that offers to buy and view the property had failed'. Meetings from the meeting said previous offers to view and buy the pub had failed.

No public price has been listed for the pub

The owner's claims that High Ercall Village Hall was an equivalent facility, despite operating a bar one day a week. Council officers disagreed, saying the hall lacked the facilities of a pub.

Rejecting the plans, the committee noted: "The application has failed to demonstrate a lack of need for the community facility, failed to evidence a robust marketing campaign and failed to identify an equivalent or alternative community facility that provides a similar offer which meets the needs of residents."

It went on to say: "The proposed development would result in the unacceptable loss of a community facility."

The Cleveland Arms was listed as an asset of community value which meant its loss was considered contrary to the policies of the Telford & Wrekin local plan. However, that expired in the summer of 2022. Ercall Magna Parish council is currently applying to have it relisted.

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