PLANS are in motion to convert four closed pubs for other uses – further proof of the harsh conditions facing the licensed trade in Swindon.
Planning applications have been submitted to Swindon Council for change of use for The Black Horse, in Hinton Road, Wanborough, and The Sandgate, in Oxford Road, Stratton, as well as 12 Bar and The Falcon Inn, both in Westcott Place.
New figures released this week by the Campaign for Real Ale indicate 26 pubs across the UK are closing every week. Campaigners say this is largely as a result of the recession, tax on beer and cheap supermarket alcohol.
The Falcon, which has been empty for more than two years, is the only one which has been granted planning permission so far. The plan, by Mark Stevens, is to create four self-contained homes, with associated parking.
In a planning document, agent Stephen Kingsholt, said: “My client has purchased the site with the intention of converting the main building back into three housing units along with converting the existing skittle alley into a new one-bedroom, single storey dwelling.
“The site is no longer financially viable as a public house which is why the brewery have sold the whole premises to my client.”
Down the road at the 12 Bar, applicants Patrick Slattery and Christopher O’Connell have submitted plans to subdivide the main building into nine residential flats and a single retail unit, while an outbuilding would be extended and converted to become two flats.
The application says there has been a general decline in the viability of pubs, and claims that little interest was shown in 12 Bar and the only acceptable offers were to convert the premises to a mixed residential use.
At Wanborough, Swindon Council is still considering an application for the conversion and extension of The Black Horse into a home, with the erection of a detached garage with a hobbies room above, and the erection of a stable block in an associated paddock.
Lesley Berry, who has been the landlady of the New Calley Arms, in Wanborough, for 12 years, said The Black House had seen a string of relatively short-lived landlords in recent years.
She said: “It’s much harder to survive in this climate. Not only are the supermarkets undercutting us all the time, people cannot afford to come out. Food is first priority, but there’s lots of little things that don’t help.
“By the time everything is finished, we will have so few pubs around.”
At Stratton, plans have also been submitted to convert the former Sandgate pub, which has been closed since about 2008, into a day care nursery. The applicant is Richard Lay, of White Horse Child Care Limited, a day care nursery operator.