BIG plans are afoot for a pub which has changed hands many times over the years.
The Wheelwright’s Arms, in Emsworth Road, Havant, was previously owned by Punch Taverns and a succession of landlords took over the 150-year-old watering hole, but none of them could make it work.
The building was recently sold to local firm Upham Brewery for £500,000, and director David Butcher said it intends to invest the same amount.
Mr Butcher said: ‘It is a fabulous building in a great location.
‘It had been owned for a long time by Punch Taverns and no-one has been able to invest in it with either money or the right people.
‘They have taken the rent and not really cared about the building.
‘So we’re going to probably invest about £500,000 refurbishing it.
‘A planning application is in with the council at the moment to extend and connect the barn at the back to the main pub.
‘There will also be a lovely courtyard garden to the back.
‘We held a meeting with residents and showed them the plans which were very well received.’
The pub will be aimed at the local community with real ales from Upham Brewery, near Bishops Waltham, and freshly sourced local produce.
It looks set to open in May if the planning application is given the go ahead.
Councillor David Guest, who represents St Faith’s ward on Havant Borough Council, said previous landlords suffered because of noise causing a disturbance to nearby properties.
And he said the problems drove some landlords out but that he, personally, had a soft spot for it.
‘My relationship with the Wheelwright’s goes back a long time,’ said Cllr Guest.
‘When we were teenagers that was our pub. I have a great affection for the place but it does not seem to have been able to find its niche.
‘Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale) says that sadly 1,500 pubs are closing in this country.
‘That’s a colossal amount. The Wheelwright’s won’t work just as a pub. It needs a good food offer to succeed.’