Councillors join with residents in last ditch effort to save Lancaster pub 'at heart of community'

City and county councillors have joined with residents of Freehold in a bid to save The Britannia pub from being turned into student housing.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 9:58 am
Couns Jack Lenox and Lizzi Collinge with residents outside The Britannia.

As we reported on Tuesday, a planning application has been lodged with Lancaster City Council for a change of use for the Ullswater Road building.

But residents and local councillors alike have said the pub is 'at the heart of the community' and should continue to operate.

Jack Lenox, Green Party city councillor for Bulk ward, said: "The new owner of The Brit alleges that it's no longer feasible to operate it as a pub, which surely should be reconsidered.

"The pub closed at the start of the pandemic, ultimately being sold and changing hands in January of this year.

"Obviously the opening of a new pub wasn't a priority for anyone during the peak of the second wave of the pandemic, but that doesn't mean there isn't a viable business here now as we begin our recovery from coronavirus.

"Everyone should oppose this application and help save this valuable community resource and well-used institution for people to meet and enjoy themselves."

Lizzi Collinge, Labour Party county councillor for Lancaster East, said: "I share residents' concerns about the loss of a wonderful community asset, which has been a cornerstone of the community for many years.

"That, alongside the added pressure on parking it would bring and the large number of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) already in the area, means I just don’t think this is a suitable development site.

"I’ll admit to feeling a bit of nostalgia about the Brit too - my husband ran it many years ago and it’s where we met. No doubt if the walls could talk, they’d have some stories to tell!

"I know other members of the community feel the same way about the Brit as I do. It complements the other businesses in the area, contributing to the ‘critical mass’ of community assets that keep Freehold thriving, like the Gregson, the Freeholders, the chemist and the Post Office at the corner shop."

Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox, also a Green Party city councillor for Bulk ward and cabinet member for sustainable economic prosperity, said: “I will be challenging the application against the council’s policy to restrict new student accommodation to no more than 10 per cent of properties within 100m.

"We need to ensure that we have properly balanced communities and accommodation for all types of need.”

Carol Chapman, a resident of nearby Rydal Road, said: "The Brit has been an important part of the community in the area for many years and its loss would be a major blow.

"It is especially important as we are coming out of Covid lockdown and restrictions for our community to have public focal points and amenities to reconnect us all.

"I have heard many people say how much they have missed being able to go to a local community pub during this time.

"This is an area which already has considerable numbers of multiple occupancy accommodation which will already challenge the council’s limits in the district plan.

"There are already real problems with parking around here and the creation of 10 units without any parking space makes no sense at all.

"This will only make matters worse. This also affects pedestrians and cyclists as dangerous parking causes a hazard for everyone. We have recent experience of this at an HMO at the bottom of Rydal Road.

"The Brit is a very prominent and valued building at the heart of the community and to take it out of public use and carve it up permanently in the way proposed does not seem appropriate."

A consultation is ongoing until July 30 for representations to be made to the city council. The application will then go before the planning committee, where members of the public will be able to speak with reference to the application.