Campaigners hoping to save their local pub from the bulldozer have been dealt a major blow after it emerged that Monday (January 25) will be its last day of trading.
The Centurion Community Action Group is fighting proposals that would see The Centurion in Vicars Cross demolished, with a 64-bed care home built in its place.
The latest planning application is a resubmission after the original scheme was rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC).
Among the reasons for refusal last time was that the proposed development would be ‘to the detriment of the cultural, social and economic health of the community to which this facility serves’.
And it had ‘not been sufficiently demonstrated that the public house is financially unviable’.
Trevor Jones, chair of the action group, said: “I have just been informed by the current landlord, Jamie, that the Centurion is to cease trading next Monday, January 25, 2016.”
He added: “My feeling is they have taken this decision to try and add weight to their argument that the pub is not financially viable.”
The action group understands pub group Admiral Taverns has agreed to sell the building to developers LNT Group subject to planning consent. Pub management group Willow Park Inns is currently running the ale house but has so far not commented.
A spokeswoman for Admiral Taverns said: “We are closing the pub with effect from Tuesday. Unfortunately we have had to make that decision based on the fact the company operating the pub has issued us notice of their intention to terminate the contract.”
She said the pub management company was saying The Centurion was ‘not making enough money to pay the rent’ and so it would close ‘until further notice’.
“It’s not a decision we have taken lightly,” she added.
If the latest planning application succeeds, then one final option may remain for campaigners.
They previously succeeded in getting The Centurion listed by CWaC as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), giving the community the opportunity to buy the pub if it goes up for sale.
However, this would mean raising hundreds of thousands of pounds and Admiral Taverns would be under no obligation to sell to them.