JD Wetherspoon pub talks are continuing

Corn Exchange, Alnwick
Corn Exchange, Alnwick

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon says it is still keen to open in Alnwick – just over THREE years since announcing its interest in the town.

And the company, which has planning permission to convert the Corn Exchange, is still working with Northumberland County Council to thrash out crucial issues which have prompted delays, but this could take a few more months to resolve.

The long-running saga started in September 2012, when the firm submitted a scheme to transform the Grade II-listed building into a food and drink premises.

However, things were delayed when the pub giant decided to amend the plans, leading to a revised scheme, which was lodged in August 2013. In February 2014, Wetherspoon was granted permission, but it has not been plain sailing since.

In September last year, a wrangle over the use of the outdoor hours raised questions over the future of the scheme and then, at the start of 2015, the company called time on its plans after becoming ‘frustrated’ with the way its application was being handled by the county council.

A major grievance revolved around Wetherspoon siting a glass and bin storage area in Roxburgh Place car park, behind the Corn Exchange, in return for resurfacing and marking the car park.

But the company claimed that the county council’s highways department opposed this, but no formal decision had been forthcoming. Without a resolution, the firm said at the time that it must terminate its interest in the building, which has stood empty for more than two decades.

It prompted the authority to pledge crunch talks with Wetherspoon and in the summer, we reported that progress was being made over these issues, but there was still work to do, including dealing with a number of transfers of land ownership.

And last week, a Wetherspoon spokesman said: “We are continuing to work with the council on this and it is likely to take a few more months yet. Wetherspoon is still very keen and hopeful that it can develop a pub on the site.”

A county council spokeswoman confirmed this.