Wetherspoon pub bid set for February vote

The Corn Exchange, Alnwick
The Corn Exchange, Alnwick

A long-awaited decision on plans to transform a derelict town-centre building into a JD Wetherspoon pub could be made next month.

The Gazette has been told that the company’s bid to open in Alnwick’s vacant Corn Exchange is likely to be heard at February’s meeting of the north area planning committee.

The £1.3million scheme for the Grade II-listed property, which has been empty for two decades, would create around 40 jobs.

Committee chairman Coun John Taylor said: “We are hoping to bring it to the February planning meeting, although a recommendation has not yet been reached due to a delay from consultees.

“We have had a site visit for a closer inspection of the building and surrounding land, in particular to consider access for disabled people.

“There has been a delay because we have to have consultation with a wide range of people who have an interest in the building and its impact, especially because it is a listed building.”

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. A Gazette poll of nearly 1,000 people then revealed that 72 per cent supported the plans.

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 site is owned by Alnwick businessman Kevin Thompson.

He said: “It is nice to hear that it could finally be coming to committee after all this time.”

The meeting is scheduled for 6pm on February 6, at the town’s council chamber.