It looks like 'Very last orders' for The French Horn pub in Pewsey
An application for change of use and building development is being considered by Wiltshire Council's planning department to turn The French Horn pub by the canal in Pewsey into a four-bedroomed home.
After Wadworth and Co - the freehold owners - failed to find anyone to take on the lease, in August 2014 they tried to sell it as a pub. The asking price was £395,000 plus VAT and despite advertising it widely, the agents only had three viewings and no formal offers were forthcoming.
However the building development company Red Star WSL did offer to buy the property 'with a view to redeveloping the site for residential purposes'.
The house and the attached cottages were built in 1839 - and a pub opened there in the 1860s. The building are not listed and are not in a conservation area.
Red Star WSL's first planning application to turn the buildings into four separate residential units was abandoned. It involved adaptations to the roof - where it was found one bat was roosting.
To avoid the lengthy process involved in dealing with this bat, the application was withdrawn. The current application retains the roof in its present form - and, presumably, the bat.
The application spells out in some detail how the pub's business declined - in terms of the amount of alcohol sold each year. From 2001 to 2014 the number of beer barrels used in a year fell from 69 to 31, the gallons of wine from 401 to 185.
Not surprisingly, no mention is made of the amount of food sold - especially during the years when it was run by an Australian chef and his partner and was widely known for some of the best pub food in the area.
Amongst the figures quoted in the application there is one peculiar year for the sale of spirits at The French Horn. In terms of gallons of spirits sold they read: 2011 - 16, 2012 - 45, 2013 - 20 and 2014 -10. Can the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics have been responsible for such a huge increase in the sale of spirits?
Early consultations with Wiltshire Council revealed some policy issues to be addressed: the loss of the public house as a community asset and the presumption against residential development in this countryside location.
The application states that Pewsey's five other pubs are in better locations and the nearby Waterfront Bar and Bistro benefits from its closeness to the canal and its larger car park. The French Horn could not, it is argued, have survived as a pub.
The planning application does have one problem to overcome. The access to the property's parking is along a bridleway. As the Council's Rights of Way Officer says: "...the new householders would need to have a demonstrable private right of vehicular access. It is an offence to drive along a bridleway without lawful authority."
Consultation on the planning application has already closed and a decision is expected by June 1.