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Don’t let pub become a house, locals plead
DOZENS of East Oxford residents have urged Oxford City Council to throw out plans to turn their pub into a house.
The Chester Arms in Chester Street, Iffley Fields, closed down in July after owner Woodchester Estates purchased it from Punch Taverns for a reported £390,000.
Its new owners claim the pub is not viable but local businesses and residents say it was not on the market for long enough.
And about 70 people have put in objections to the change of use. Chloe Horner, who runs Oxfork cafe in Madgalen Road, said she would have been interested in taking the pub on.
She said: “As a resident and a business owner, and someone who has frequented the Chester Arms, there is still room for another pub in this area.
“I don’t think its sale was advertised enough locally and before anyone knew it was on the market it had been sold.”
It is understood Woodchester Estates initially looked into keeping the building as a pub but since then appears to have come to the conclusion it is no longer viable.
Chester Street resident Becky Hall said: “We live directly opposite the Chester Arms – a thriving community pub was one of the reasons we chose to live here.
“The potential of the pub is huge. The argument that there is no market for such ventures is proved wrong by the recent transformations of the Magdalen Arms and Oxfork.
“This is not an area ‘flooded’ with provision, rather an area with a vibrant local community who have need of a well-run provision.
“There are no other pubs in Iffley Fields.”
Warwick Street resident Chris Garland said: “Having used the Chester Arms over the past two or three years it was clear that the business was not being run well. There is no pub on the Iffley Field side of the Iffley Road. “There is a strong case that the Chester Arms could provide an important community facility and as a consequence become a viable business.”
In August, the Oxford Mail reported that 50 pubs in Oxfordshire have called last orders in the past five years.
Campaigners blamed beer tax rises and supermarkets selling cheap alcohol for choking the trade.
In its application, Woodchester Estates said: “The Chester Arms is not positioned to attract passing trade, nor is it a destination pub that people drive to.
“Successive landlords have recognised this and the importance of attracting local support.
“However, despite numerous efforts to attract local support for the pub, such support was never forthcoming.”
The Mail contacted the planning agents acting for Woodchester Estates but they declined to comment.