Don’t let pub become a house, locals plead

thisisoxfordshire: The Chester Arms The Chester Arms

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.”

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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.

Comments (7)

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6:32pm Mon 15 Oct 12

paul from Kennington says...

if those 70 objectors popped in only for pint after work, that would be roughly £64,000 a year mon-fri just from them. Add on Sat and Sun takings and passing trade then it would be a profitable little local. It was a very nice pub before it shut and one of the few left in the back streets. But this seems the same as the Cavalier, the locals were warned use it or flats, and the locals did not use it and got the flats.
if those 70 objectors popped in only for pint after work, that would be roughly £64,000 a year mon-fri just from them. Add on Sat and Sun takings and passing trade then it would be a profitable little local. It was a very nice pub before it shut and one of the few left in the back streets. But this seems the same as the Cavalier, the locals were warned use it or flats, and the locals did not use it and got the flats. paul from Kennington
  • Score: -42

7:40pm Mon 15 Oct 12

zho says...

Hi Paul,

I agree that few locals used the Chester, but they do use the Rusty Bike, the Magdalen Arms, and Oxfork in good numbers: the first two were struggling until changes of ownership 3 years ago, and Oxfork was a bike shop. All offer good food, pleasant décor and lighting, and friendly service. Simple really. What’s more they have decent toilets, central heating that works, they don’t play loud heavy metal or have the TV blaring out, and they manage to empty the ashtrays and keep outside areas tidy – unlike the Chester under Woodchester’s ownership.
Hi Paul, I agree that few locals used the Chester, but they do use the Rusty Bike, the Magdalen Arms, and Oxfork in good numbers: the first two were struggling until changes of ownership 3 years ago, and Oxfork was a bike shop. All offer good food, pleasant décor and lighting, and friendly service. Simple really. What’s more they have decent toilets, central heating that works, they don’t play loud heavy metal or have the TV blaring out, and they manage to empty the ashtrays and keep outside areas tidy – unlike the Chester under Woodchester’s ownership. zho
  • Score: 1

11:02pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Tom Cranmer says...

I frequented the Chester Arms for a couple of years upto it being taken over - it was a great pub with acoustic music nights, good food and a Sunday night quiz, well kept with friendly staff and punters. Some peope may say that it was run badly post takeover to drive down it's viability as a business.....
I frequented the Chester Arms for a couple of years upto it being taken over - it was a great pub with acoustic music nights, good food and a Sunday night quiz, well kept with friendly staff and punters. Some peope may say that it was run badly post takeover to drive down it's viability as a business..... Tom Cranmer
  • Score: 0

8:39am Tue 16 Oct 12

Mick E says...

Agree with the above comments, especially the one about the 70 locals that should be using the pub if they want it to stay open, many pubs in Oxford survive without the passing trade, and I don't think that's the issue, and I'd say less than 5% of people would drive to pubs anyway, I go to pubs all over Oxford, and almost always by taxi or bus, either because they do good food, have decent events, or simply because one of my mates is local to the pub and actually uses it & recommends it as a place to meet.
The Maggie Arms & Oxfork as well as the Rusty Bike (as well as other busy pubs in the area - Cricketers Arms, Fir Tree, Oxford Blue - all within a 3 minute walk of one another) are run like businesses, they've tapped into their relative markets & given the people what they want, with less spare cash we're all a bit more fussy about where we spend it, and the Chester Arms isn't giving anyone much reason to part with their hard earnt cash there rather than somewhere else. Pubs don't run themselves any more & require a bit more imagination to be successful.
Agree with the above comments, especially the one about the 70 locals that should be using the pub if they want it to stay open, many pubs in Oxford survive without the passing trade, and I don't think that's the issue, and I'd say less than 5% of people would drive to pubs anyway, I go to pubs all over Oxford, and almost always by taxi or bus, either because they do good food, have decent events, or simply because one of my mates is local to the pub and actually uses it & recommends it as a place to meet. The Maggie Arms & Oxfork as well as the Rusty Bike (as well as other busy pubs in the area - Cricketers Arms, Fir Tree, Oxford Blue - all within a 3 minute walk of one another) are run like businesses, they've tapped into their relative markets & given the people what they want, with less spare cash we're all a bit more fussy about where we spend it, and the Chester Arms isn't giving anyone much reason to part with their hard earnt cash there rather than somewhere else. Pubs don't run themselves any more & require a bit more imagination to be successful. Mick E
  • Score: 0

11:24am Tue 16 Oct 12

paul from Kennington says...

Tom Cranmer wrote:
I frequented the Chester Arms for a couple of years upto it being taken over - it was a great pub with acoustic music nights, good food and a Sunday night quiz, well kept with friendly staff and punters. Some peope may say that it was run badly post takeover to drive down it's viability as a business.....
You are probably right there, take the money for the flats and run. It saves having to run a business, as we saw with The Lion Brewery
[quote][p][bold]Tom Cranmer[/bold] wrote: I frequented the Chester Arms for a couple of years upto it being taken over - it was a great pub with acoustic music nights, good food and a Sunday night quiz, well kept with friendly staff and punters. Some peope may say that it was run badly post takeover to drive down it's viability as a business.....[/p][/quote]You are probably right there, take the money for the flats and run. It saves having to run a business, as we saw with The Lion Brewery paul from Kennington
  • Score: -39

4:16pm Thu 18 Oct 12

zho says...

Cracking letter of objection from Elise Benjamin on the Council's web pages.

I don't see how planning consent can be granted now.
Cracking letter of objection from Elise Benjamin on the Council's web pages. I don't see how planning consent can be granted now. zho
  • Score: 0

2:38pm Fri 2 Nov 12

zho says...

I hear on the grapevine that Planning Officer Andrew Murdoch has approved the application for change of use.

How come, given that none of the three criteria for change of use has been met.

Dodgy, or what?
I hear on the grapevine that Planning Officer Andrew Murdoch has approved the application for change of use. How come, given that none of the three criteria for change of use has been met. Dodgy, or what? zho
  • Score: 0

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