Our pub is greatly missed, say campaigning residents

November 29 2018

A CAMPAIGN to save a historic pub from being turned into maisonettes has been launched.

The Merchants Arms in Bell Hill, Stapleton has been trading since 1938 but was sold in December 2016 and suddenly closed.

In recent years it had been managed by national pub chain Greene King as part of their Hungry Horse brand.

Now Bristol City Council has received a planning application for change of use so the building can be turned into six maisonettes.

The application, put forward by Red Rock Developments, has met with fierce opposition from people who would like to see it kept as a pub.

Chris Faulkner Gibson, representing Colston Estate Community Association, said: "It's the only pub of its kind in the area. You have to go quite a long way to find another pub which is as family-friendly, with as big a garden and which has the same food offering as the Merchants Arms did.

"It just leaves such a big area without a family-friendly pub. We know of at least one local person who wanted to operate it as a pub but the developers said there was no interest at all, which isn't correct. They also haven't showed any hard evidence to show that the pub wasn't viable. It's greatly missed."

So far more than 35 people have objected to the proposals.

In July campaigners managed to get the building listed as "an asset to community value" which gives it some protection against development.

The owners, however, challenged the listing,  which led to a review hearing on November 2.

Mr Faulkner Gibson said: "We've been waiting to hear but we don't know what the outcome is at the moment. If the listing is upheld, it will be significant in terms of the current planning application."

If the status is upheld, it won't necessarily stop the planning application but it will give more weight to the objectors' case.

Mr Faulkner Gibson said: "It also means there is the possibility that there could be a community buy-out. The community would have to be offered the opportunity to make a bid under the community right-to-buy scheme. At the moment we are in limbo but in the meantime we are asking anyone who feels as we do to support us and lodge an objection to the planning application.

"If change of use is granted, that's the last opportunity we have to save the pub. It will be gone forever so this is really the last ditch attempt to try and stop it happening."

Eastville councillor Mhairi Threlfall has said the application will be "called in" for a committee decision should council officers recommend approval. 

If you would like to comment on the plans, visit www.bristol.gov.uk and search for planning application reference 18/04935/F. 

Comments should be made by December 12 but residents may have longer if the application is called in.