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Gloucestershire Business News

Historic Severn-side pub 'no longer viable'

An historic Severn-side pub is requesting conversion to a private house because the owners claim it is no longer viable as a business.

Current owners of The Cock Inn, on the outskirts of Blakeney, want Forest of Dean planners to agree on conversion of the sixteenth-century listed coaching inn, which as a free house built a reputation for popular meals and offered guest accommodation, into a five-bedroomed house.

The pub's website states the business is open Friday to Sundays, but is no longer offering rooms, and states: "The Cock Inn is a distinctive and much loved part of the local community that extends a warm welcome to locals and visitors alike."

The business, which Punchline understands was marketed two years ago without an agreed sale, has been run by the current owners since early 2015.

Requesting change of use to domestic, a design and access statement says: "Currently the building is very clearly a public house. It is daubed with signage, extractors and lighting typical of a public house, but perhaps untypical of a heritage asset. Removing these items will return the building to its earlier appearance.

"Such a renovation would be weighted in favour of the proposed change of use. The existing building has extensive external plumbing, the proposed change of use minimises the requirement for any external plumbing thereby achieving a further improvement to the external appearance. The proposed alterations to the current site layout and additional soft landscaping will also provide an enhanced visual experience of the subject building within its setting."

But the Coleford-based Forest of Dean pubs campaign group is questioning claims that the business isn't viable.

Geoff Sandles, said: "In February 2019 a similar application was withdrawn by the applicant and the Cock Inn has continued to operate as a licensed premises.

However, there are concerns that the owners might possibly be deliberately running down the pub.

"The front door is usually locked during opening times with access gained to the rear. This is a strange set-up as there are no signs on the front door indicating any other access and because there are dogs on the premises the side gates are permanently closed effectively discouraging custom."

Viability of the pub would be difficult to prove, he added, but it enjoyed "an excellent reputation for fine dining".

"Because of its isolated position the Cock Inn could never be a successful wet-led pub, but it has potential as an efficiently run gastro-pub under the right ownership and management."

Real ale campaign group CAMRA is also objecting.

A letter to planners said: "CAMRA have many case studies of public houses being deliberately run down either by pub companies or private owners with a view to claim the business is no longer viable. We seek reassurance that this is not the case with the current owners of the Cock Inn."

Permission, said the group, and a possible loss of the King's Head in Blakeney, which has seen "prolonged periods of closure", could lead to a "worse case scenario... leaving the community without a pub".

Blakeney's Yew Tree Inn closed two decades ago.

Meanwhile Gloucestershire Highways have raised issues over the details of car parking and access for the revised layout of the A48-bordering proposal and asked for the plan to be deferred while their safety concerns are addressed.

Punchline was unable to contact the pub for comment.

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