Homes plan to save pub from bulldozer
PLANS to turn a landmark former pub into flats will give the building a fresh lease of life, its new owners say.
Fears had been raised that Bennetts Tavern in Cobridge – which has stood empty since it shut in 2010 – would be demolished.
Its plight prompted a successful campaign to save a war memorial which was attached to the pub's walls.
Now developer Rickwood Properties, which bought the pub before Christmas, intends to convert it into flats.
A planning application is being drawn up for the site, on the corner of Sudlow Street and North Street, with building work to be carried out by Grademax Ltd.
Rickwood director Dave Tanner said: "If we get planning permission, we're going to turn Bennetts pub into four separate flats.
"It looked like a really nice pub, so we're not looking for big changes – just a refurbishment.
"Because of the character of the place, we shall look at trying to keep some of the pub's history by incorporating original features into the flats."
Mr Tanner said the company had renovated properties in North Street and although Bennetts was the first pub it had taken on, it was a natural progression.
"We're going to significantly upgrade everything in the pub and make it easier for the future buyer to maintain," he said.
"When these flats are finished and we've sold it on, the place will be well-insulated and equipped with all the mod cons."
Mr Tanner said it was a shame Bennetts had no future as a pub but the plan would at least give the building a new lease of life.
"Many pubs are now starting to go out of business so it's only natural that we should find another use for them," he said. "We think turning them into flats is exactly what should be done to keep them."
The developers invited former landlady Trixie Bennett – who converted the former North Road Hotel into the pub in the 1970s – to take a last look at the pub, which she likened to 'walking through the Titanic'.
Uncertainty over the pub's future sparked fears the war memorial, commemorating First World War soldiers from the North Street area, could fall prey to metal thieves.
But historians Mervyn Edwards and Angie Stevenson led a campaign to rescue the plaque. It is now in storage at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
Mr Edwards, of the Potteries Pub Renovation Group, agreed Bennetts needed a 'drastic reinvention'.
"The most important part was that we managed to save the war memorial which was part of the pub, but it's now come to the end of its natural life and it needed to become something else," he said.
"It's a shame to see it go, but it's good that Trixie, the woman who founded it with her husband Fred, should see it off."
Fellow campaigner Angie Stevenson said: "It's great that they are keeping the building because I was expecting to come back and see the demolition.
"The building is a piece of history. Hundreds of people have been there."