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Pub controversy brewing in Winterbourne

Winterbourne Arms development appeal provokes backlash

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters


07964 444701

Pub controversy brewing in Winterbourne

The owner of the Winterbourne Arms has challenged West Berkshire Council’s decision to refuse plans to convert the pub into a house.

An appeal was submitted on Nicholas Roffe’s behalf last month.

The appeal quotes an unnamed expert, who supported the owner’s assessment that the pub in Winterbourne is unviable.

The expert noted that any profits likely to arise from reopening the pub would not offset basic maintenance costs.

They stated: “Buying a pub, and then investing a substantial sum to restore it in the hope of re-establishing a profitable business is a highly risky business venture.

“This is particularly true of pubs in destination locations, where the level of secure immediate trade is very limited indeed.

“Any individual wishing to embark on such a venture would be taking a significant risk of failure and in all likelihood would certainly not earn an acceptable return on their investment, even if the business were able to achieve a break-even level of operating profitability.”

The appeal marks the latest episode in a long-running saga, which has pitted Mr Roffe against the Save The Winterbourne Arms campaign.

Ever since he acquired the building in 2018, Mr Roffe has said that financial considerations have prevented him from reopening the pub.

This is despite the assurances of the previous publican that it would reopen.

As a consequence of the dispute, the premises have been derelict since 2017.

Save The Winterbourne Arms spokeswoman Jill Hoblin has criticised the appeal, saying it contains “very little” in the way of new arguments against reopening the pub.

In particular, she contests Mr Roffe’s assertion about the pub’s viability, saying: “The assumption that the pub is unviable is something the campaign team refute and indeed our own independent consultant found the viability assessment that was submitted to support the application was seriously flawed and did not stand up to particular scrutiny.

“In addition, we had two chartered accountants, one with extensive experience in the pub trade, review the assessment and their conclusions matched that of our consultant.”

The campaign team is currently seeking a Public Works Loan (PWL), which would allow it to purchase the pub should it come on to the market.

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Article comments

  • NoisyNortherner

    05/11/2019 - 09:38

    No doubt the way these things go, the pub will "mysteriously" catch fire and will need to be demolished.