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Future of Donnington pub hangs in the balance

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The Fox and Hounds bids to convert barn into seven guest rooms

The Fox and Hounds at Donnington
The Fox and Hounds at Donnington

THE future of The Fox and Hounds pub in Donnington is largely dependent on whether plans to offer overnight accommodation to guests is approved.

An application has been submitted to replace an existing brick-built barn with seven en-suite bedrooms and an extension to the pub’s restaurant.

A design and access statement accompanying the application says: “The pub was a viable business prior to the construction of the new A34 link road to the M4 in 1971.

“This diverted traffic and trade to the east and away from the pub.

“In 1998 the Newbury bypass was opened which left the pub isolated in an island surrounded by roads and dual carriageways.”

In 2014, the pub closed and was about to be boarded up when the Vine family purchased it from the brewery with a vision of turning round the pub’s fortunes.

It has since been completely refurbished.

But the design and access statement notes: “However, margins are extremely tight and its future and viability as a public house hinge on the need for additional income.

“Many of the travellers who use the pub for refreshment ask if there is accommodation available.

“As there are no guest bedrooms, the landlord has to direct customers to other accommodation in the locality, thus losing not only this revenue but the dining element as well.

“The intention is therefore to maximise the potential of this additional source of income and to construct seven bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms to serve this need, which in turn would also support the running of the restaurant and pub, increase local employment and preserve this historic inn.”

It is also proposed to build a small extension to the restaurant, which would enable the dining area to be remodelled, and also provide a disabled toilet.

The size of the building and number of bedrooms has been based on the number of daily enquiries for accommodation since opening the pub in 2014, balanced with projected build costs as well as the size of an appropriate building in relation to the host dwelling.

The design and access statement concludes: “The existing brick-built barn/storage building is in poor structural condition.

“The proposed replacement is for a two-storey building containing five bedrooms and a single-storey section to the rear for two additional bedrooms, one being purpose-built for disabled use.

“The single-storey link to the pub allows for travellers to have access to the bedrooms at all times, independent of the pub opening times.”

It is also proposed to construct an additional single-storey restaurant extension to the northern end of the pub in an area currently used as an external seating area.

The property has ample car parking for 40 cars to the rear and southern side which will not be affected by the proposal.

The applicant has recently negotiated a 15-year lease with the adjoining landowner to the south to ensure there is sufficient parking for the proposed use.

Click on the map below to see a comprehensive listing of pubs in West Berkshire and North Hampshire.

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