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Buyer's deal likely to mean end of old pub
A SHUT DOWN West Oxford pub looks like it has definitely served up its last pint after a deal has been struck with an unnamed buyer.
The Osney Arms in Botley Road has been shut for nine months after landlady Maria Oliver decided to cut her losses as takings fell.
Despite it being on the market for more than six months with offers in excess of £400,000 being sought, her property agents said there had been no interest from anyone wanting to keep it as a pub.
But Mrs Oliver’s deal, for an undisclosed sum, rests on the purchaser gaining planning permission from Oxford City Council for a change of use to residential in the next six months.
However the council wants the large building, which has parking and a garden, to be retained in its existing form.
The landlady, who ran the pub since 1983, said: “They want to keep it as a pub but nobody wants to buy it as a pub. Not in the current climate.
“I tried to sell it as a going concern but nobody was interested. There are enough Pubs around here, and people aren’t going out as much.”
In 2009, Mrs Oliver had ploughed £30,000 into a refurbishment but it proved fruitless and the pub closed in November, 112 years after it was built.
She added: “I have been here 28 years, I have seen good and bad times but this has been the worst ever.”
Joost Barnas, from Mrs Oliver’s agents the Cotswold Property Shop, said there had been no offers from anyone looking to keep it as a pub.
He said: “We did have someone interested in opening a Subway franchise and we have had a couple people looking to open a sandwich place or a bistro.”
But he added: “The planners do not want to lose anymore pubs in Oxford.”
Pub company Greene King sold The Osney Arms in 2005 to Admiral Taverns but Mrs Oliver bought it outright as a freehouse year later.
City council spokeswoman Fiona Colcutt said Mrs Oliver would have to prove the pub business was not viable.
She said: “The building is an attractive one which adds a lot to the local scene and any alternative uses we would very likely wish to see accommodated within the existing building, rather than the site be redeveloped.”
Another of Botley Road’s last remaining pubs The George Inn was sold by Greene King to hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds, which opened a store there last summer.
Tony Goulding, pubs officer at the Oxford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, believes The Osney Arms would have been marketed at too high a price for landlords and pub firms to consider.
And he said the temptation for pub owners to sell to a developer was too high.
He added: “We need to look to the future. Pubs can be made to be and should be the hub of the community.”