PLANS to turn a former Henley pub into a house are being opposed by the town council.
Brakspear wants to convert the Rose and Crown, which is Grade II listed and the only remaining pub in New Street, into a six-bedroom home.
The company shut the pub in September, saying it was no longer viable. But members of the town council’s planning committee claim the business should be able to turn a profit and are to ask South Oxfordshire District Council to designate the pub an asset of community importance.
If they are successful, Brakspear will only be allowed to sell the property to the community during its first six months on the market.
The scheme was introduced in the 2011 Localism Act to give local bidders enough time to raise the money to buy it.
Councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “The Rose and Crown is at the heart of the community and in a very good position to thrive. I can understand that some pubs need to close because they’re in a difficult trading area. However, that one is in a prime spot for attracting local people as well as visitors who come to see a show at the Kenton Theatre, for example. It should be able to fare well and should be retained.”
Councillor David Clenshaw said: “Henley is gradually losing all of its historic pubs. I believe there were 30 when I first moved to the town.
“I’m not saying all pubs are untouchable things that should be kept at all costs but the Rose and Crown is important. It is a key part of the streetscape in New Street and an asset to the community. Every effort should be made to save it.”
In May, permission was granted for the neighbouring Horse and Groom pub to be turned into a house. Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said he had supported that conversion but felt the Rose and Crown was of greater historic interest. The pub started trading in 1658 and has a well which was once used to draw water for brewing beer. Cllr Gawrysiak said: “We should be trying to convince Brakspear that this should be a viable business. It is in a great location and the company should consider expanding the accommodation to allow a more mixed use.”
The house would retain the coaching arch at the side of the pub to provide a car parking space and there would be no major changes to the exterior.
In its planning application, Brakspear says: “The proposed works would not constitute substantial harm or total loss of significance of this designated heritage asset. The layout is designed in such a way so as to have the least impact upon the historic fabric of the building.”
The company said there are alternative pubs within 100m of the building and at least 10 within 400m, a “more than reasonable walking distance”.
The committee agreed to recommend the application is refused by South Oxfordshire District Council.