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A new lease of life for the old Butchers Arms

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 19, 2013

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PLANS to refurbish a “run down” and “dilapidated” village pub have been approved.

Joules Brewery has submitted plans to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to refurbish the Butchers Arms in Cheadle Road, Forsbrook.

Once part of the Joules estate, The Butchers Arms became a Bass pub in 1974, when Joules was bought by Bass, and then part of the Punch Taverns estate when Punch purchased the Bass Lease Company.

Joules, which has 16 flagship pubs in the local area, purchased the pub last summer.

In the design and access statement the applicant states that Joules Brewery “aim to refurbish the Butchers arms from a run down and dilapidated boozer into a quintessential country pub that is a flagship of a renowned local craft brewery”.

It adds: “The Butchers Arms is not a listed building, but it is a characterful building and important to Forsbrook.

“The Butchers is central to the village and has been a successful all round village pub for most of its life.

“It has had a successful past, but its success has eroded over the past few years as, along with many pubs, customers have decreased as the requirement for drink only pubs has declined.

“This trend has been especially pronounced in the past few years due to a combination of the smoking ban, the discounting of supermarkets and a reduction in drinking overall.

“This effect has seen the closure of a number of public houses meaning the district of Forsbrook and Blythe Bridge now has just two other pubs, both still functioning as drink only pubs, The Black Cock and The Roebuck.

“The Butchers has declined in the past few years to a point where it had become unviable and required substantial investment and repositioning to serve a new market.

“The owners planned such an investment, but chose to sell the pub instead.

“Joules believes that there is a demand for a more premium and well maintained pub in the village that also offers simple wholesome food, well priced and locally sourced.

“The brewery believes The Butchers has the potential to serve a new need locally if the offer is broadened and investment is made.”

The design includes creating sight lines to the central fire using reclaimed materials; creating a meeting room; improving access for disabled and less mobile users; creating a new outdoor terrace and creating new planting, landscaping and railings at the front of the pub.

The statement adds: “Joules has the philosophy that a pub should be warm and inviting and be a place that people want to spend time in.

“To achieve this is must be aesthetically attractive, our goal is that our customers don’t want to leave.

“Joules has considerable experience in pub design and aims to restore the country pub feel of the Butchers by creating cosy and inviting nooks and crannies, within a single open space.

“The look will be traditional in style and the emphasis on old England, rather than modern contemporary.

“It will look like the kind of old country pub that one would hope to find in an attractive village like Forsbrook.

“This application will allow substantial investment in the Butchers Arms, and preserve the future use of the pub at a time when many are being converted to residential or other use.

“With the village already having two public houses, by repositioning the pub for food as well as for drink, this enhances the local offering.

“As a central location this is especially important, as is preserving the substantial car park which the other public houses do not possess.

“The Butchers is an important part of the village identity and sits in a high profile position, providing an important gateway to the play space that sits behind.

“The improved definition of the pub, and its transformation to a building of high quality, will enhance the cultural identity of the village; it should be a picture on a postcard.”

The investment being proposed will provide employment during the works and long term and sustainable local employment.

It is estimated around 12 part time staff and two full time staff will be recruited in addition to managers.

The company has consulted with highways authority Staffordshire County Council, which has supported the scheme, with plans to widen pedestrian access by the side of the pub and make provision for a deliveries bay off the main carriage way.

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