A disused Preston pub which served punters for more than 150 years is to be converted into bedsits – because it is not financially viable to reopen it.Advertisement
The Charnock Hotel, on St. Anne’s Street in Deepdale, traded continuously from 1870 until last orders were called for the final time two years ago.
Preston City Council has now approved a bid to turn the mid-terrace property – purported to be haunted after a series of claimed incidents in the 2000s – into a seven-bedroomed ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO). That means future tenants will share basic facilities like toilets, a bathroom and kitchen.
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The conversion will include the building of an extension at the back of the former boozer, a complete revamp of the interior – including the closing up of the cellar – and some minor external modifications. However, the historic sign hanging from the first floor of the pub will remain.
Under local Preston planning policy, council officers had to assess whether the hostelry – which is thought to have first opened its doors in the first half of the 19th century, before its licence briefly lapsed – was still needed by the local community. They also had to consider whether it could operate as a going concern.
The authority concluded that there was “adequate alternative provision” of pubs in the area, including The Army and Navy, The Moorbrook and Moor Park – all within half a mile.
According to documents submitted to the town hall by the applicant, Gerald Rica Ltd, the building is in such a state of disrepair that it would be unfeasibly costly to bring it back into use as a pub. Since its closure, it has also been vandalised.
A report by Preston planning officers states: “Given that the building has not been in use as a public house for many years and, in view of the current climate and rate of closure of public houses, the use of the building as a public house is not considered to be financially viable.”
The proposed HMO was deemed to meet minimum housing standards and communal bins will be provided for tenants in a rear yard.
Last April, a previous proposal, by the same applicant, to subdivide the pub into two dwellings was also approved by the city council.
Tales of occult-like occurrences on the premises emerged in 2007 when a new landlady took over The Charnock. She told local media that she had noticed strange things happening – including beer pumps seemingly switching themselves off of their own accord.
However, it was the discovery of pool balls scattered across the table one morning – when they had been left in a perfect triangle formation the night before – that really set her teeth on edge.
Locals did little to soothe her fears when they told her how two barmaids had been frightened to go down into the cellar after seeing shadows and objects moving around. One punter even claimed to have witnessed a woman go into the toilet – but never come out.
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