Pressure is mounting on councillors to approve JD Wetherspoon’s plan to open a pub in a derelict Alnwick building.
The company has submitted a scheme for the town’s Corn Exchange and the application is due to be heard at next Thursday’s north area planning committee.
No official recommendation has been given yet, but the strength of feeling from Gazette readers is largely in favour of the development.
Earlier this week, we posted a story about the application onto our Facebook page and it attracted nearly 70 reader comments.
The majority of people said Wetherspoon would be positive for the town and would bring the Grade II-listed Corn Exchange, which has been empty for two decades, back into use.
This came on the back of a poll we ran at the end of 2012 to gauge the views of the town and area’s residents.
Overall, 993 people voted online and via the paper, and 72 per cent (718) said yes to wanting the pub in the Corn Exchange. Just 275 people said no.
The main reason for supporting the plans was that it would be great for business and jobs and would attract more people to the town.
The most popular reason for voting against the plans was that Alnwick doesn’t need more multi-national companies and should be kept quaint.
And now, Northumberland resident Simon Jobson has started an online petition, urging approval of the scheme.
The document will be presented to the north area planning committee next week.
More than 200 people have signed up in support so far.
The £1.3million scheme would create around 40 jobs.
Wetherspoon’s bid to convert the former cinema into a pub has been a long-running saga, with the company originally submitting an application in October 2012.
The following month, members of Alnwick Chamber of Trade raised concerns about the scheme, fearing it would have a major impact on the town centre.
This prompted a backlash, particularly online on Facebook.
But in January last year, we reported that there would be a delay as the company decided to amend its proposals.
If approved, the converted Corn Exchange would have a bar and customer area downstairs, toilets upstairs and a beer garden,
A Wetherspoon spokesman said that the company doesn’t tend to comment on an application before it goes in front of a planning committee but reiterated the firm’s desire to open a pub on the site, adding that it would be a great asset to the town.
The petition can be found here