Anger has greeted the possible loss of another Ellesmere Port pub.
The issue has arisen at The Sutton on Gleneagles Road in Great Sutton, where The Hilldale Housing Association on behalf of a care provider is proposing to covert and extend the closed 1970s pub to provide 15 flats for supported living.
The small, specialist housing association, created in 2009 and based in the north west, says its purpose is to provide high quality housing to people who need additional support.
The vacant pub occupies a large corner plot with generous car parking according to a report.
But Hilldale says residents ‘will seldom possess vehicles’ and there is a bus stop outside neighbouring shops which connects to Ellesmere Port town centre.
Trees along the boundary would be retained. An access point on Drummond Avenue would be blocked off and there would be a video door entry system and security floodlights.
The association has told planning officers the pub, formerly known as The Marquis, was rebranded in 2010. Since then it has become an unviable business with at least six larger competitors within a mile radius, it claims.
Hilldale concludes: “The proposal to convert, refurbish and extend the existing, vacant pub building into a small, residential hub containing 15 individual flats will prove to be a valuable and sustainable facility in the community for the future.”
Pages of comments have been sent to the borough council with Charlie Miller of Hallfield Park, Great Sutton, saying: “There is very little information with regards who will be living at the property.
“If it is people with social issues which is likely to attract anti-social behaviour then I feel the application should be refused because there is a bus stop adjacent to the property which is used every morning and afternoon by children getting the bus to and from School.
“Most of the children walk to the bus stop without parents and the children’s welfare and safety should come first.”
At St Edmunds House, Robinson Road, Ellesmere Port, Stephen Clegg suggested: “The Sutton (formerly the Marquis) performs a valuable community focus for residents in its vicinity and its loss would represent hardship to this community.
“Ellesmere Port cannot afford to continue to lose its pubs at this rate. It already has the feel of a ghost town and the remaining establishments do not cater for more than a narrow group of mainly the younger customer.
“Lack of real choice and decline of community amenities will only perpetuate, even exacerbate, the general emptiness and air of desolation that pervades Ellesmere Port.”
Living directly opposite, Vikki Bridson-Vice of Philips Lane explained: “I have great concerns this planning application may lead to drug addicts and those suffering with substance misuse being housed directly opposite my home or potentially the property could be used as a bail hostel.
“This will then attract a range of anti-social behaviours. Why is a housing association based in Wigan running a supported living accommodation here?
“What do they know about our local community? Absolutely nothing!!
“We do not need any further flats and housing. We need a place for our community to thrive socially.”
Elaine and Dave Kimpton at Berry Close, Great Sutton felt ‘Since the Sutton pub had gone, the hub of the community has gone where we used to meet up with our neighbours’ while Dawn Hannigan at Philips Lane said similarly ‘There is no community hub to this neighbourhood any more’.
Linda Mccully at Hawthorn Road, Little Sutton has told planners she ‘strongly objects to this being demolished to be turned into flats’ while Alison Rogers at Askrigg Avenue, Little Sutton points out: “This pub has been there for more than 40 years and is a focal point of this estate’.
Peter Zemroch at Starbeck Drive, Little Sutton, has told planners: “I was devastated to learn that Ellesmere Port is to lose yet another pub, namely the Sutton.
Ellesmere Port (population 60,000 approx) is smaller than Chester (90,000) but not by all that much. So why has the Port got so few pubs?
“At the last count there were just 21 left in the town depending on where you set its boundaries. Compare that with Chester which has over 70.
“Pubs continue to close in Ellesmere Port at an alarming rate, despite the lack of watering holes. Recent years have seen the demise of the Wing Half, Strawberry, Sportsmans Arms, Knot, Black Lion, Viscount, Foxfield, Sutton Way, Ellesmere Arms, Grosvenor and Westminster. Why did these close?”
He added: “Companies like Enterprise Inns and Admiral Taverns seem hell bent on selling off pubs for development with little regard to the communities they serve. They make little effort to keep these open as pubs.”
The building could be put to better use as a community centre or youth club for local people, says Stacey Rollinson at Rudstone Close, Little Sutton while Beverley Cubbon at Fenwick Road, Great Sutton feels: “We need to keep good old fashioned pubs in Ellesmere Port. Too many are being closed down.”
Former Sutton barmaid Angela Bridson on Philips Lane says: “I completely disagree with the decision to make ‘The Sutton’ into flats. The Sutton pub has been a piece of this estate’s history for years.
“I worked there as a barmaid and lost my job due to its closure and it broke my heart. It is more than just a property or a piece of land.
“It’s a part of Ellesmere Port that a lot of people treasure.”
Fiona Randell of Park Road, Ellesmere Port believes: “Money should be put into the community helping pubs and entertainment as there is hardly any left.
“It is killing our town, most people will travel further afield as nothing here for them. Why kill Ellesmere Port instead of helping?”
Neighbour Simon Edwards on Philips Lane told planners: “My first concern is why the venue closed in the first place, as a well frequented public house, the venue has had its issues mainly caused by mismanagement from successive tenant managers placed in the premises since Enterprise Inns acquired the property some 6 - 7 years ago making an excellent manager redundant in the process.”
Martin Mullen on Philips Lane suggested: “This is another valuable community asset which is being scrapped in order for an unscrupulous brewery to make a vast profit while depriving this area of what has been a focal point for so many years.”
Objectors have also referred to the amount of new housebuilding taking place in Little Sutton and the need for facilities.
Enterprise Inns have been approached for comment. The borough council gives Thursday, May 25, as the closing date for comments although amended plans were awaited at the time of writing.