IN the latest blow to the city’s pub trade, a prominent former pub could be converted into six homes if a planning bid succeeds.

Oxford City Council has received an application for planning permission to divide up Chequers in St Thomas Street.

The pub, known more recently as “Maroon”, has been empty for more than a year.

The proposal has prompted a mixed response from residents. Gareth Williams, landlord of the nearby Honey Pot pub, said he welcomed the plans.

He said: “There’s absolutely no demand for it to be a pub again as far as I can tell, and rather than it being empty, it’s better that it’s converted into something useful.

“I think houses are a good idea. A lot of flat buildings look really anonymous, so at least as houses it would look a bit better.”

But Councillor Susanna Pressel, who represents the area for Labour on the county council, said the applicant could have a tough job getting permission.

She said: “The city council has a policy of resisting the loss of pubs, and only gives permission for a pub to change if there is clear evidence of a lack of viability.

“I’m not sure they will be able to prove that lack of viability, because if you look back 10 years ago, it was thriving.”

In a statement to the city council, planning agent Peter Uzzell from the John Phillips Planning Consultancy said a viability assessment had been carried out by licenced property surveyors Teague.

He said: “The Teague assessment demonstrates that following marketing there is no commercial interest in continuing the use of the building as a public house and such use would not in any event be viable.”

Plans were originally submitted for flats, but this was changed to houses after the Environment Agency informed the applicant the building was in a flood risk area.