Another Ellesmere Port pub could be calling last orders.
The Grace Arms on Stanney Lane appears set to follow others in the town in closing its doors as Birkenhead-based Magenta Living has announced plans for up to 42 apartments ‘on land at Stanney Lane’.
Not for profit organisation Magenta, the largest registered housing provider in Wirral, started building in the town in 2014 with 46 new homes in Crescent Road.
It is responsible for the £9.5m extra care homes in Hartley Place, Sutton Way, which offer 60 one and two bedroom self-contained apartments for the over 55s.
A letter to Stanney Lane residents inviting them to a 90 minute consultation in the town’s West Cheshire College campus on Wednesday October 4, which does not mention The Grace, sparked a flurry of posts on Ellesmere Port’s Pride in the Port web site about the possible loss of the Greene King owned pub.
Gemma Baxter’s grandparents ran the pub post war and her dad and aunty lived there in the 50s and 60s.
She said Magenta had confirmed to her the apartments were intended for The Grace and their partners North Cheshire based Lane End Developments had indicated a deal had been negotiated.
She appealed to people to attend the consultation and suggested: “They’re obviously trying to keep this low key so the public consultation passes by unnoticed.”
“We cannot let out of town developers rip the heart out of the heritage of this town,” she said.
“That building is an icon of our town.
“Please, please share, we need everyone that cares to get behind this. For those that say ‘It’s just a pub’ I’m guessing you have no Pride in the Port.”
She added: “When I started the campaign I never expected so much support and I have been overwhelmed and heartened by how much the community have got behind this.
“It makes me so proud of the town I live and have grown up in.”
It is suggested the current staff and management working there knew nothing about the position of the pub before the public consultation was begun, with one saying: “We have regulars, we have customers who come in the pub because they’re lonely at home and we help put a smile back on their faces, we serve excellent meals and we bring families and friends back together.
“It’s a good pub, and we are part of the community.”
Warren Earlam pointed out the pubco is building a new pub on Rossmore Road East and believes the closure is ‘all about balancing the books’.
Ellesmere Port resident Peter Zemroch, who has followed the decline in the town’s pubs, told the Pioneer: “This looks like yet another kick in the teeth for Ellesmere Port drinkers. There is currently not a single pub open in the town centre and The Grace Arms is one of the only two left anywhere near the traditional heart.
“It seems that property developers are vying to see how many flats they can cram onto the sites of former pubs. The Strawberry, Grosvenor, Black Lion and Sportsman have already suffered this fate with the Sutton likely to follow.”
Sale particulars describe the premises as being in a prominent location fronting Stanney Lane, a main route into Ellesmere Port.
Offers over £700,000 were invited with agents CBRE later advertising the large detached traditional three storey pub, standing on land gifted by the town’s Grace family in Whitby Hall and dating back to the 1930s, was under offer at £600,000.
It is described as a family dining community pub with 150 covers and a strong live sports related trade.
Greene King says a sale has been agreed in principle but is not yet completed.
A spokesperson commented: “As a leading pub operator and brewer we are committed to running high quality community pubs. To be able to continue to invest in our estate from time to time we have to make the difficult decision to sell a pub.
“After much consideration we decided to put The Grace Arms on the market. A sale has been agreed in principle and our team are aware of the situation.
“The Grace Arms remains open for business as usual.”
The pubco says the closure of The Grace and the development at Rossfield Park are not linked and it will endeavour to help all team members affected to find positions at other Greene King pubs in the area.
At Magenta, community regeneration chief Jamie Martin commented: “Magenta Living are currently in negotiation with Lane End Developments regarding the construction of 42 apartments for affordable rent on Stanney Lane, Ellesmere Port.
“Lane End have approached Greene King brewery regarding the acquisition of the site and the intention is for Magenta Living to be landlord of the completed homes.
“If the acquisition and construction proceeds this project will bring Magenta Living’s investment in affordable homes in Ellesmere Port to nearly £20m since 2014.”
In 2013 The Grace reopened after a £200,000 makeover as its managers vowed to make it a hub of the community with 12 new jobs created.
Magenta says it owns and manages just under 13,000 properties.
It has invested almost £200m in existing homes and has ‘ambitious plans’ to build over 800 properties for rent and sale over the coming years.
The consultation will take place from 4.30pm to 6pm on Wednesday (October 4) in room 123 on the first floor of the college off Sutton Way with project manager Louise Edwards at Magenta saying she looks forward to seeing residents.