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‘Please call time on pubs being turned into homes’
CAMPAIGNERS say too many pubs in Oxfordshire are being turned into homes and that more protection is needed to stop it.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says 22 locals have been given planning permission to be turned into homes in the last five years.
And the group says the number of pubs turning into houses in the face of rents they cannot afford is an “ongoing threat”.
Officials for the group blame pub companies who they say bought up pubs when times were better and when debts outgrow assets are forced to sell.
Now, they say pub debts have outgrown their assets, forcing companies to sell off locals that could have been kept open by private landlords.
CAMRA Oxford’s branch secretary Tony Goulding said: “It is an ongoing threat.
“It is far too easy for pubs to be turned into houses. We are awaiting further Government help.”
The Government recently introduced the rule that if a pub goes on the market it can be declared a “community asset”, which buys local residents six weeks to raise the money to make a bid on it.
But, said Mr Goulding, locals will still struggle to compete financially with housing developers.
He said: “There isn’t enough in place to stop the last pub in the village becoming homes.”
There have been several cases in the region which have upset the pubs campaign group.
Greene King closed the Crown and Thistle in Headington in 2012.
Its new owners, identified by the Land Registry as being Shinder Pal Singh, Surinder Jeet Kaur and Gurdeep Kaur, of Marston, now have planning permission to build three four-bedroom homes on its car park, and the future of the pub remains uncertain.
The Shears in Wantage closed last year.
Greene King sold it, with a guide price of £195,000, to a London property developer David Snowden, who now wants to turn it into six homes.
CAMRA’s White Horse membership secretary John Rees, of Foliat Drive, Wantage, said: “I would much rather have a public house there. There is no way anyone can make enough money to live with rents from a tied company.”
Greene King Pub Partners managing director Simon Longbottom said: “Following an extensive review of The Shears, it was decided that it no longer fitted in with our core estate and we therefore placed it on the market.
“As with any pub closure, this was a difficult decision to make and the pub was sold in June this year.”
But Michael Cadd, 74, who sold Marston’s Three Horseshoes a year ago for it to be turned into two homes, said he was not surprised by the loss of city watering holes.
Mr Cadd, who still lives next to the Oxford Road pub at which work is now under way, said: “It was a good thriving little pub but I think the smoking ban was the final nail in the coffin.”
He said he received no offers for the pub before selling it for £350,000.