WATERLOOVILLE’S historic pub, The Wellington, has been saved from total demolition.
Following public outcry, Havant Borough Council’s Conservation team said that, while the public house is not statutorily or locally listed, ‘it is of architectural and historic merit.’
While the news came as a shock to new building owner Mick Forar, who had originally planned to build flats on the land, the construction expert said he is ‘excited’ to keep a part of Waterlooville intact while offering a new concept to the town.
Mick has been renovating bars and restaurants and constructing new builds for some years.
He has enlisted the help of local firm BH Architecture Limited to help enhance the much-loved building into flats while keeping the pub element.
Mick said: ‘Initially we were going to pull it all down, but there was a lot of local opposition.
‘We heard what the council said and had second thoughts on how we can use the existing building.
‘We’ll create four flats inside the building with some flats offered up as airbnb-style short stay accommodation.’
Mick confirmed that he has never run a pub or bar before, but is looking forward to including this new element into the enterprise.
He said: ‘It is important in keeping things standing these days, especially in the high street.
‘Whether it’s a shop, bar, cafe...everything seems to be closing down.’
As construction work is underway, members of the public have stopped by to enquire about the work.
Mick said: ‘The feedback has been really positive and we’ve had lots of questions which is good.
‘We’re telling people it’s a new bar that will also offer a bistro style cafe.
‘We will focus on craft beers and wines so I’ll be looking to hire a chef and some bar staff.’
While the team are happy to keep a part of Waterlooville history intact, they’ve been discovering some more local memories along the way.
Bernard Harding, of BH Architecture, said: ‘Working on the site we’ve found lots of historical bits and bobs.
‘To date we’ve found an old one pound note, a thrupenny bit and even a packet of cigarettes which look like they date back to the 1950s.
‘We haven’t found any gold yet, though!’
Since the team started the renovations, they have been sharing their progress on social media.
They plan to finish work and open in the autumn,
Mick said: ‘I’ll plan a launch event. We’re really going to enhance the site and breathe fresh life into the area.
‘We want to encourage people to pop down and see what we’ve done with the place.’