Flats plan for eyesore pub is given the go-ahead

Date published: 20 February 2019

An eyesore former pub once described as ‘a skeleton of a building’ is finally set for a new lease of life.

Planning officers have given the go-ahead for The Big Red pub, in Wardleworth, to be transformed into three new apartments.

The old Regent Street hostelry – which has been dubbed 'The Big Red Eyesore' – has been vacant for several years.

Fears over the safety of the dilapidated boozer were first raised as long ago as 2013, when former Councillor Ibrar Khan said it was ‘a skeleton of a building’ which had become a danger to the public.

But despite a long period of marketing, no one has come forward with the intention of reopening the white, two-storey building as a pub.

Now Rochdale Council has given the green light to applicant Muhammad Ulhasson’s proposal to convert it into apartments.

A planning officer’s report says: “Clearly the proposal will bring the site back into use and create a thriving and active environment within a sustainable location with the reuse of an existing underused site not fit for purpose building.

“I accept the findings from the marketing report that the proposed building remains vacant, even after it has been marketed for more than three years without success and that there is no reasonable prospect of the site being used for the currently permitted use.”

The restored building will have a new white-render finish, and be divided into one two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor, and a pair of one-bedroom apartments on the first floor.

There will be three parking spaces at the back of the new apartments, accessed from Lisle Street.

The planning officer’s report also states that the renovation will ‘improve the existing appearance of the building’ while having no negative impact on how the surrounding area looks’.

Ward councillor Sultan Ali said he was pleased to see the building being brought back in to use.

He said: “It has been like that for a very long time – it’s been neglected, front, back and side – and if it can be brought back into use then, cosmetically, it will have a good impact on the eye as well as providing accommodation for residents which brings in council tax that can be spent on the public.”

Councillor Ali added that renovating the property would also mean it would be less likely to attract anti-social behaviour.

However, the proposals were not without opposition from residents living near the former pub.

One objection lodged with the council claimed the flats ‘would cause nothing but problems’, while another resident said the side windows would be ‘a gross invasion’ of their privacy and ‘totally out of character with the rest of the residential houses on the street’.

Concerns were also raised with the council about extra traffic on an already congested road.

And bosses at nearby Regent Snooker Club said they feared that potential noise complaints from future occupants could ‘interfere’ with the running of the business.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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