When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Unviable pub to become a guest house
WORK to turn an empty West Oxford pub into a guest house has started after planners accepted it couldn’t continue to trade.
The former Osney Arms pub in Botley Road is being converted into an 11-room guest house after its owners won planning permission.
The rooms will be aimed at young professionals who stay in the city during the week.
To secure consent, the building’s owners had to prove it was no longer viable as a pub.
The news comes after the pub’s previous owner and long-time landlady Maria Oliver spent years trying to sell the failing business.
Accounts provided by Brookwood show the pub made profits of just £6,166 in 2007, £4,134 in 2008, £2,693 in 2009 and a loss of £19,446 in 2010.
It was put on the market by Mrs Oliver in 2008, at an initial asking price of £950,000, but the highest offer received was £650,000 and the pub was eventually removed from the market.
According to the Land Registry, the pub is now owned by a company called The Osney Arms Limited and was bought for £495,000.
News that the building will be brought back into use has been welcomed in the area, but the loss of the pub, which closed a year-and-a-half ago, has been lamented.
John Seward, a shop assistant at nearby grocery store and deli Eggs Eggcetera, said he welcomed the move.
He said: “It doesn’t really affect us, but it’s always good to see buildings like this brought back into use.
“We knew the previous owner, who did struggle for some time so it will be good to see it back in use as something.”
Julian Newman, from Oxford Ironmongery, said: “I’m sure the new owners have done their research but I would question the level of demand for a B&B.
“I do have a concern regarding car parking, the current situation is bad enough and I imagine when the B&B takes off that will put even more pressure on the already scare availability of parking spaces for our customers.
“As a beer drinker, I rue the demise of every pub but I understand that in the current economic environment pubs find it very hard to survive.”
Labour city and county councillor for Jericho and Osney Susanna Pressel said: “It would be nice to see the building brought back into use as it makes the area look run-down, which it isn’t.”
Planning agent Linda Wright said her clients had proof the pub was unviable in its previous state.
She said: “The pub had been on the market for 12 months and there have been significant attempts to sell it as a going concern.
“Council policy states that where a pub is found to be unviable, the council should approve a change of use.
“There is a difference between the change of use from a pub to a residential property and what is being proposed.
“With the change to a residential property, you lose that community part of the pub, but in this case we’re not going to do that.”