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Gloucestershire Business News

New lease of life for tumbledown pub

Building work backed by planners in January 2021 will finally begin this summer, marking the end of a long wait for improved shopping in Berkeley.

The project will see the rescue and extension of the Mariners Arms in Salter Street and full conversion of the dilapidated 500 year-old pub, which was shuttered in 2018.

Re-opening of the site will come nine years since a pint was pulled at the pub. CAMRA's What Pub? reports what the Grade II-listed hostelry dates back to 1490, when it was believes to be a nunnery, the building becoming a pub during the Reformation.

CAMRA said: "The Mariners Arms was once tied to George's Bristol Brewery, later being absorbed into the Courage estate. It closed in 2015 with an uncertain future."

The move will also mark a new address for the town's long-standing The Co-Operative Store, which employs 19 people and operates in cramped nearby facilities in Salter Street.

The Midcounties Co-Operative has confirmed to Berkeley Town Council that the project will begin later this summer, with the shop reported to be "up and running" during 2024.

Justine Hopkins, council clerk, said: "We have been in discussion with the Co-Op head office because the Co-Op move has a bearing on our Town Improvement Project 2023, with the existing store and the plans for relocation coming into our implementation. We have had to engage the store recently over cleaning up and keeping the area clear, and they have been helpful.

"We have spoken directly with Phil Ponsonby, the CEO of the MidCounties Co-Operative, and he has given us his commitment for the relocation work to now go ahead later this summer."

Berkeley's TIP 2023, which the council says should begin in 2023/4,  is a hybrid council/public project which is looking to make the town safer, greener and more accessible. 

Elements of the plan include a proposed new market area which aims to "host and revive the market town that Berkeley once was". Stroud District Council recently chipped in £40,000 to boost the project.

Better road crossing facilities and "speed reduction techniques" will aim to increase pedestrian safety, while given Berkeley's popularity on the National Cycling Route, new bike facilities and resting places will aim to encourage cyclists to linger and spend money in the town. Planting and green areas are also on the to-do list.

Plans for the relocated Co-Op will include 13 new parking spaces in the pub's former car park and a dedicated space for a first-floor apartment, above the store.

The store's retail sales area will cover 230 square metres (2,475 square feet) which equates to 30 square metres more than the typical average size of a Tesco Express (at 200 square metres, or 2,200 square feet). The project will involve demolition of the west-facing rear wing of the building and replacement with a larger new area. Stores, freezers, staff areas and an office will be implemented alongside this within the former front section of the pub.

The Midcounties Co-Op told planners: "Midcounties Co-Operative have confirmed that their current much smaller store located on Salter Street within Berkeley will be retained and sub-let to a non-competing retail tenant. This shop is only 2,400 square feet gross internal area with a much smaller Sales Area below 1,800 square feet which does not allow Midcounties Co-Operative to provide a full range of their products, goods and services."

The new store, with a "much larger" sales area, will allow for a full product range to be provided, the statement added.

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