Tue, 28 Apr 2020
COLD Ash councillors have raised no objections to converting an empty pub into a house.
The Sun in the Wood, on Stoney Lane, has been vacant since 2018.
An application to convert the Ashmore Green pub, built around 1900, into a house has been submitted by a Mr and Mrs Morrison of Sulhamstead.
Planning documents said that the pub’s location, changing drinking trends and nearby competition would make re-opening it unviable.
Documents submitted by Newbury-based planning agent Philip Wadge Architecture said that converting the pub would “ensure the integrity of the building” and prevent it from falling into “disrepair or become a focus for vandals and looters”.
Cold Ash parish councillors raised no objection to the scheme at a meeting held virtually on Tuesday, April 14.
Linda Verner said the location made it difficult to make the pub viable as people would have to drive there owing to a lack of footpaths and public transport.
She said: “It’s very hard to resist while we have a sensible application, before someone jumps in and says we want to build four semi-detached houses there.”
Bernard Clark added: “It could be a lot worse.
“I think they have done a really good imaginative job with it.”
The Sun in the Wood was put on the market for £750,000 by brewer Wadworth & Co in July 2018, but no offers were received.
An offer for £400,000 was then rejected following a switch to an offers-invited approach.
A viability assessment said that business at the pub was in decline, with losses increasing from £153,390 in 2017 to £228,547 in 2018.
Barrelage fell from 49 in 2017 to 27 in 2018, a 45-per-cent reduction.
The appraisal said that a capital spend of around £420,000 would be needed to get the pub up and running again.
However, once costs were factored in the pub would make little profit and would be a high-risk investment, according to the report.
The assessment noted that there were 16 competing pubs within a two-mile radius of the Sun in the Wood.
“The public house is located in a rural area with very limited passing trade and it is not situated in a location where there is going to be enough demand for a further food offering in addition to the current provision from other operators,” the report said.
It added that the “awkward back road access and insufficient population of local clientele within walking distance makes the closure of the establishment a reality”.
Philip Wadge Architecture said that efforts have been made to consult with the community, including the three closest properties to the site.
It said that responses to date had been favourable as the alternative to being inhabited could be “dereliction and vandalism”.
The pub is not registered as an asset of community value.