Drinkers want pub which has been empty for more than five months to reopen

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 June 2018

The Walnut Tree Inn has been unoccupied since January. Picture: Henry Woodsford

The Walnut Tree Inn has been unoccupied since January. Picture: Henry Woodsford

Archant

The owners of a Weston-super-Mare pub which has been unoccupied for more than five months want to reopen the public house ‘as soon as possible’.

The Walnut Tree Inn, in Winterstoke Road, is owned by Star Pubs and Bars and was taken over in November 2017, but one month later it received a food hygiene rating of two.

Both the hygienic handling of food, cleanliness and the condition of the facilities and building were not deemed adequate.

Concerns have been raised about the Walnut Tree’s future as it has been vacant since January.

Star Pubs say the inn is ‘in good condition’ following an extensive refurbishment in 2016 when a new sign, lighting scheme and redecoration of the trading areas took place.

On its website, the public house is listed as having an annual rent of £25,000 and its estimated minimum ingoing costs are set at £13,418.

MORE: Post Office plans to scale down its Oldmixon services sparks petition.

South Ward councillor Ian Parker has said the Walnut Tree has struggled to keep pints pouring regularly on the Oldmixon estate since 2008.

He said: “The problem is there has been so many different landlords in the past 10 years but for whatever reason they never last very long.

“It has to be resolved soon because it is such a big area, it is on a busy main road and seeing it empty is not good.”

Geoff Lloyd, who lives on the estate and was a drinker at the pub for more than 47 years, told the Mercury he is ‘disappointed’ to see the Walnut Tree is still shut.

He said: “It has always been a community pub and used to be very popular on the estate.

“The nearest pubs are in Uphill and Hutton, which are too far out for a lot of us.

“It is disappointing to see it is still closed and it would be a huge shame if we lost it altogether.”

A spokesman for Star Pubs and Bars said: “It is our intention to reopen the Walnut Tree Inn, which was extensively refurbished in 2016, as soon as possible.

“As such we are actively recruiting for an operator to take over its running and have already received some interest.

“It is important for us to find a local operator with the right experience and drive to make a success of running a community style pub, as well as the ability to develop and enhance its food offer.”

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