It’s last orders for Waterlooville pub that regulars fought hard to save

LOCALS From left, Phil Harris, Ian Bedford, Christine Hinton, Colin Neal in happier times at the pub
LOCALS From left, Phil Harris, Ian Bedford, Christine Hinton, Colin Neal in happier times at the pub
The Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton, which is home to the George Thomas Building. Picture: Geograph

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CUSTOMERS have spoken of their anger after closing time was called on the pub they fought to save.

The Crows Nest, in Hazleton Way, Waterlooville, has been the subject of an 18-month battle by punters to save it from the bulldozers.

The tenant which runs the pub, Southern Counties Taverns, has been told by the owner Acres Developments, it must cease trading by December 29.

And a new application has been submitted to Havant Borough Council to turn the pub into a day nursery.

Bert Johnson, the owner of Southern Counties Taverns, said: ‘We’d like to keep it open, obviously, but I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do about it.

‘Legally Acres Developments owns the property and if they want to close it there is nothing we can do.

‘We have been there three years and it has been owned by Acres Developments for nine months.

‘It is viable to keep it going.

‘But the owner is a property development company and it obviously wants to develop the site.

‘All the applications have been turned down so far but how can the council turn down an application to develop a pub that’s already closed?’

The pub has been subject to several planning applications which have been refused. Acres is appealing against the last refusal – a plan for three detached homes on the site.

Commander Phil Harris, from Linden Way, Horndean, a regular at the pub for 30 years, said: ‘It remains a vibrant and singularly unique public house which fulfils a much needed and truly appreciated community service.’

A statement from Acres Developments said: ‘The property has been marketed as a going concern since February 2010 and in that time there has been no genuine interest from any party interested in continuing to run it as a public house.

‘The owner ultimately needs to secure a viable future for the property. After exhausting all of the options for the site continuing in its present use, they have taken the inevitable decision to close the public house.’

CAMPAIGN

THE News has launched the Love Your Local campaign to celebrate all that is good about local community pubs.

We believe they are an essential hub for residents and that communities suffer when they shut down.

We want you to tell us what’s great about your local.

Let us know and we will feature the best ones in The News. We will be urging people to support community pubs and we’ll be reporting on events and activities to show how you can help.

If you love your local, contact reporter Miles O’Leary on (023) 9262 2114 or email love yourlocal@thenews.co.uk

The Crows Nest is where it all began

THE Crows Nest pub was the much-loved public house that kick-started The News Love your Local campaign.

Havant Borough Council has dealt with two planning applications from developers wanting to knock the building down and put up homes in its place.

Regulars at the pub convinced councillors to throw out an application to build four bungalows on the site of their beloved local.

Planning permission had already been given for three properties on the car park but the planning committee rejected the further application, which would have seen the pub being demolished.

One of the reasons given was a Havant council policy that says owners have to prove they had tried and failed to make the pub work as a going concern.

It gave hope to other campaigners who have seen pubs around The News area close in their dozens and are either demolished, converted into housing or left to rot.

Acres Developments, the owner of The Crows Nest, says the pub is struggling but Southern Counties Taverns, which has the leasehold on the pub, says it is still turning a profit.

A new application to turn the pub into a nursery will go before the council in December and because it is a change of use Acres does not have to prove it has tried to sell the pub as a going concern.