CIVIC chiefs are considering their own proposal to convert a former pub into flats.

The city council wants to change the Corner House on North Walls into six one-bedroom flats, with a new extension.

Opponents of the plan say the proposal will set a precedent and make it hard for the council to object to future conversion plans.

They claim the building's owners Greene King decided to cash in on its residential value and over-priced it on the pub market when they sold it to the council in 2020.

READ MORE: Winchester City Council buys The Corner House to build flats

The closure of the pub/cafe in 2019 had come as a surprise as it had become a popular place run by the Little Pub Company operated by Jayne Gillin.

There have been three objections to the council proposal.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Corner House in Winchester, July 2022

Andrew Hepworth, of North Walls, said: "The Corner House pub is the only community facility in the immediate area for local residents to use. There has been no public consultation on the change of use."

Mr Hepworth said the pub was closed and marketed by Greene King to developers at above the market value of a 'free house' pub, deliberately alienating potential landlords.

A Greene King spokesperson denied the claim: “We took the difficult decision in 2019 to put the Corner House up for sale as we felt it had become financially unviable for us, following the decision by our tenant at the pub to depart.

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"It was priced competitively with other pubs in the area and was not marketed solely as a residential opportunity. We are passionate about pubs and in the very rare cases where we are left with no choice but to sell a pub it allows us to further invest in the rest of our estate.”

Another objector Quentin Brook told the council: "If approved, Winchester will lose another pub/community venue and all other pubs in Winchester will be at risk of development as future applications will simply cite this one. Greene King put the pub on the market for sale priced as a development opportunity. The agents then marketed the pub to developers.

"The actual market value of the pub as a pub was far less, but PubCo’s (like Greene King) will generally try to ensure their old pubs are closed down so as not to compete with remaining pubs they retain nearby. Despite the price being prohibitive to pub landlords interested in acquiring a ‘free house’, the property even failed to sell to developers."

Mr Brook said the pub had not been properly offered on the pub market.

He said: "This pub can be economically viable if it is put on the market valued as a pub and if it is run by the right landlord."

He said that whilst the city needs affordable housing it should not be at the expense of its pubs.

The council plan is supported by the City of Winchester Trust.

Jayne Gillin told the Chronicle that the Corner House opened in 2009 and had been successful but latterly could not compete with the many other bars and cafes which have opened in the city.


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