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The Moorbrook would be demolished as developers rebuffed twice by pub owners

Posted on - 25th July, 2019 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Preston News, Pubs
The Moorbrook in North Road Pic: Tony Worrall
The Moorbrook in North Road Pic: Tony Worrall

A much-loved Preston pub is under-threat from developers.

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The Moorbrook in North Road has twice been in the eyes of property developers building nearby student flats.

Landlord at the pub Richard Fisher-Godwin has spoken out about what he feels are ‘under-hand tactics’ to try and get the owners of The Moorbrook to sell up.

Winner of the CAMRA Central Lancs pub of the year and with a dedicated following for its ale and pizzas, the pub looks set to be surrounded on all sides by new student flats.

Owners of Canterbury Hall, which is next door to the Moorbrook, have submitted a planning application for a swathe of development.

Mr Fisher-Godwin said: “The developers on the Canterbury Hall site HMV North ltd have tried to make two offers to buy The Moorbrook and have been refused by the owners of the property on both occasions.

“It is thought that the developers intention was to purchase the property to demolish to make way for a large develoment fronting north road. Since the refusal of the sale, plans have been submitted to develop the site that surrounds the Moorbrook and the grade two listed Unicorn Pub.

“The plans see a three to five story property being built directly around the Moorbrook and the Unicorn. It will start between the two properties and stretch back onto the Emmaus Car park. The development will see a five-story property that will tower above the Moorbrook to the rear taking away all privacy to the rear of the property.

“The development properties will be directly looking and towering over the garden and windows to the residential property above. It will block out the first direct sun light of the day to the property and almost certainly create loss of light throughout the day.”

Canterbury Hall's aerial view with the pub in the foreground and church behind
Canterbury Hall’s aerial view with the pub in the foreground and church behind

Mr Fisher-Godwin claims when he was first approached by the developers they said they wanted to keep The Moorbrook standing and see how it could be incorporated into the scheme.

But he says he, and the owners of The Moorbrook Preston Ltd, feel they are now being subjected to ‘bully-boy tactics’.

He said: “After they have been refused sale of the Moorbrook have now submitted plans which will see disruption to business for a significant amount and present long term privacy issues for customers and our family home. It seems to us that these plans are almost bully boy building tactics to put pressure on our business.”

The swathe of land, including the former B&Q site, has been purchased by HMV North Ltd from Preston City COuncil.

A recent cabinet meeting saw the land sale approved for an undisclosed sum.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “As the land mentioned in this Cabinet report is subject to a live planning application, the council cannot comment any further until a decision has been made.”

A report from council officers stated about the land at Brookfield Street: “The interest from the adjoining owner has enabled the Council to obtain a capital sum from the site in exchange for a reduction in the ground rent, whilst providing additional residential accommodation in the city and rates income. The timing of this is important in that it enables the continuation of new development of flat accommodation along this part of the frontage to the A6 following completion of the Canterbury Hall development in the summer of 2018.

“Given the lack of recent rental growth of this asset and predictions of a stagnation in the retail warehouse market for this asset in the immediate future, the disposal of this part of the asset, allows the option of re-investing a capital sum to replace the reduction in income under the lease, with a more suitable investment with potential for rental growth.”

Read more: BBQ brothers to take on kitchen at Preston pub

Mr Fisher-Godwin said: “The developers have also now purchased the whole site outright from the council so therefore have the ability to submit plans freely to develop this site. I would suggest that there would be other options for this proposed development that would be more sympathetic to The Moorbrook and avoid disruption and privacy issues to our property.”

Emmaus Preston’s future on their current site is also up in the air, but when approached for comment a spokesman for Emmaus said they did not have any comment to make as the sale would not affect them in the short term.

A spokesman for HVM North Limited, which owns the site, said: “We’ve been working closely with the council on the redevelopment of this key gateway site.

“It was acquired with a clear vision of how it could be redeveloped positively for the city and support the council’s regeneration plans, while also maintaining and complementing existing uses.

“The site has already benefitted from £13m of investment in the new Canterbury Hall development. As well as meeting the strong demand for further student-living development, the site has the potential to provide a vibrant and diverse leisure offering and we’re exploring options for further investment.

“We will continue to consult and engage with the council and other stakeholders regarding our plans for the site and look forward to revealing these in more detail over the coming months.”

Full plans for the scheme can be found on the Preston City Council website.

Read more: Withy Trees in Fulwood is being sold off

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