Forty jobs in pub chain’s £1.3m plan

A cinema which has stood derelict for two decades is being lined up for a £1.3million plan to turn it into a pub, creating 40 new jobs.

JD Wetherspoons has submitted a full planning application to Northumberland County Council, seeking permission to transform the former Corn Exchange, which has access from Bondgate Within and Roxbro Place, into what would be the biggest tavern in Alnwick.

Architects’ drawings show a 3,500 sq ft bar area, in what was once the cinema auditorium, capable of catering for more than 400 customers.

And there would also be a 1,400 sq ft beer garden on the Roxbro Place side of the Grade II-listed building, which was erected in 1862.

A design statement says: “Under the proposed development, we intend to retain and refurbish the front elevation.

“Due consideration has been given for the special architectural and historic importance of the building.

“The re-use of the building will benefit the community and allow it to be actively used in the future in a sustainable way.”

Hours of operation are also listed, with trading from 7am to 12.30am Sunday to Wednesday, and 7am to 1.30am Thursday to Saturday.

As well as planning permission, Wetherspoons will also need to secure Listed Building Consent and obtain a licence from the authority.

The Corn Exhange is owned by Alnwick businessman Kevin Thompson. He said: “As far as I’m aware, a planning application is being submitted by Wetherspoons.”

The company said it had ‘exchanged on the purchase’ of the building, but had not yet completed pending the necessary permissions being granted.

Development costs are estimated at £1.3million and 40 staff would be employed.

John Hutson, chief executive of Wetherspoons, said: “We have had great success in the region and we believe one of our pubs would be an asset to the town.”

Carlo Biagioni, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said: “The Corn Exchange has been an eyesore for a long time and we have been hoping it would be tidied up.

“However, there are a number of issues to resolve with this application, including parking and hours of operation.”