Pub investment is ‘best plan’ for derelict Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange, Alnwick
The Corn Exchange, Alnwick

The owner of a building which has been standing empty for two decades says a plan to turn it into a major new pub is the best option available.

Alnwick businessman Kevin Thompson, who runs a chain of opticians across the region, bought the Corn Exhange more than 20 years ago, but has been unable to progess plans to bring it back into use.

Attempts to turn it into a family activity centre failed to win backing, as did efforts to convert it into a church.

But the 19th-century building, located between Bondgate Within and Roxbro Place, is now in line to be taken over by JD Wetherspoon, which wants to re-open it as a public house.

A planning application has been submitted to Northumberland County Council for the £1.3million project, which is expected to create around 40 new jobs.

Mr Thompson, of Clayport Square, said: “I’m sure that an application of this kind will always generate mixed views, but this is a major investment.

“As far as the building is concerned, it was used for entertainment purposes for most of its 150-year history. I tried to bring it back into use, as a family activity centre, but it was not possible due to its listed status.

“This is the best option available for a building like this.”

Unlike the majority of pubs, Wetherspoon’s premises do not play music, instead focusing on food and drink.

Alnwick Town Council will discuss the plans tonight.