New hope for Willenhall's oldest pub building

Talks are being held between the owners of Willenhall’s oldest pub and an organisation which is interested in leasing the building in a bid to secure its future and make sure it is brought back into use.

A consortium which took over the Bell Inn has withdrawn a planning application submitted earlier this year to transform the building in Market Place into a cafe, community conference facility and residential space as part of a project which would cost around £300,000.

But Stan Taylor, who is part of the group, said members were planning to re-submit the application in the new year following the outcome of talks with a religious organisation.

He said that having one or more leaseholders would make a development at the site financially viable and discussions may take place with other groups in the future.

Mr Taylor said: “We’ve got to have something in that building which covers the cost of running it.

“We are talking to one group but will have to wait until after Christmas before finding out if it will be possible to allow them to use the building. It depends if we can strike up an agreement between us.

“If we do lease the building they would then have responsibility for that part of the building.”

He said there was potential to rent out sections of the buildings to different individuals or groups but the idea would need further discussion.

He said that the group intended to resubmit the planning application when they were ready to proceed.

“The planning application is a broad one to make use of the whole of the Bell, but it will depend on how we decide to go about it,” he said.

Under the scheme to transform the building, it would also get a new front, gates, railings, toilets and external staircase.

Thieves have targeted the building in the past, stealing electrical wiring and piping from inside.

The consortium bought the building for £40,000 at auction in 2010.