Islanders asked what they want from new look pub

thisisoxfordshire: New landlord Ray Lees at the Holly Bush pub New landlord Ray Lees at the Holly Bush pub

A REVAMP of The Holly Bush pub in West Oxford is under way as new owners try to make the business a success.

The Osney Island pub was bought by development company VO Properties from Greene King pub company in January.

The pub was redecorated and re-opened four weeks ago.

Work to revamp the eight rooms with new furniture and bathrooms is in progress so the bed and breakfast can open in the next two months.

The new kitchen is also being installed so food can be served at the pub again in about one month’s time.

Landlord Ray Lees took over the pub in September and has stayed on to oversee the redevelopment.

The 56-year-old said: “The pub is a lot better already. People have been commenting that it is cleaner and nicer but we wanted to keep the olde-worlde style.

“At the moment we are turning people away who want food or the B&B so it will be really good when it comes together. The three parts of the business — bar, food, and B&B — will complement each other well.”

Over the past three years Mr Lees has taken over six pubs to redevelop them before moving on. He moved to Oxford from a Northamptonshire pub, but confirmed he is at The Holly Bush to stay.

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He said: “I really like it around here, it is my home now.”

When the pub opens fully Mr Lees, who is originally from Staffordshire, said a chef and one or two staff will have to be hired.

David O’Neill, a director of VO Properties, has said that if the former Greene King pub is not a commercial success it is likely to be closed and could be turned into housing.

Oxford City Councillor for Jericho and Osney Susanna Pressel said: “I’m always sorry to see pubs closing — they can be very useful places for people to meet and socialise together. I think it’s important for West Oxford to keep a few pubs because it’s good for the customers to have choice and competition.

“I have been in touch with the manager of The Holly Bush and I have been in a couple of times.

“It’s very friendly and pleasant.

“Many local residents are keen to see the Holly Bush stay open.”

She added that leaflets were being dropped off at homes to ask residents what they want from their local pub.

Anyone who wants a copy is asked to email cllrspressel@oxford.gov.uk

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