Long-awaited plans for JD Wetherspoon to open a pub in Alnwick are ‘moving in the right direction’ after a major stumbling block appears to have been resolved.
At the start of the year, we revealed that the company had called time on its £2million scheme at the Grade II-listed Corn Exchange after becoming ‘frustrated’ with the way its application was being handled by the county council.
A major grievance resolved around Wetherspoon siting a glass and bin storage area in Roxburgh Place car park, behind the derelict building, in return for fully resurfacing and properly marking the car park.
However, 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 Corn Exchange, which has stood empty for more than two decades.
The bombshell prompted the authority to pledge crunch talks with Wetherspoon in a last-ditch bid to pull the plans back from the brink.
And now, the Gazette understands that progress has now been made over these issues. However, there is still some work to do, as a number of transfers of ownership still need to be dealt with.
A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “We are committed to opening a pub in the town and it is good to note that matters appear to be moving in the right direction.
“We worked with the planners and collectively we have agreed a new plan which resolves the issue.
“In essence, we get the bin store in return for the new car park. There are different land ownerships which need tying up and that is what we are working on now.
“Essentially, we have planning, but do not yet have a legal right to use the land in the way that planning specifies.”
A county council spokeswoman said the authority would be working towards resolving the issues as soon as possible.
Wetherspoon was granted permission for the development in February 2014. The scheme is expected to create up to 50 jobs.