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Historic Gornal pub saved from bulldozers

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published:

A pub which dates back to the 19th century looks to have been saved from the bulldozers after a bid to build a supermarket was rejected.

Fiddlers Arms

More than 700 people signed a petition opposing plans to knock down The Fiddlers Arms in Lower Gornal and put a Co-op store in its place.

And the development has now been refused by planning experts who raised a raft of reasons why the build was not suitable.

The chief concern was the fact the pub is classed as a heritage asset and they were not prepared to let it disappear.

The Fiddlers Arms was among more than 200 pubs sold by Marston's to New River Retail in 2013.

New River lodged plans to knock down the pub in order to build a supermarket, as it has at countless boozers elsewhere.

A major campaign was launched to try and save the pub. Managers now face a wait to see if the retail firm appeals the decision.

Campaigners fought to save the pub

Dudley MEP and Sedgley councillor Bill Etheridge, who backed the campaign, hailed the decision was a victory for people power.

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He said: "Far too many of our pubs have already been lost, have been knocked down to make way for supermarkets and various other purposes.

"We need to remember an important part of our local heritage are pubs.

"We won with the Seven Stars in Sedgley and hopefully this is proving the point this isn't inevitable.

"With people power and work from local politicians we can stick up for our cultural and heritage rather than let everything be dictated by money all the time."

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Landlord Roy Pickering is due to move on later this year, but welcomed the decision.

He said: "For the people of Gornal, I'm happy for them, for all the work they have done. That's what they wanted so it's good for them."

A statement explaining the decision said: "The proposal to demolish the heritage asset, particularly in the absence of any adequate supporting justification or an appropriate replacement development would result in the total loss of the heritage asset and this will be to the detriment of the local character and distinctiveness.

"Furthermore, the policy test which requires the applicant to provide clear and convincing justification for the loss of the heritage asset has not been provided therefore the case that there are no reasonable alternatives to demolition has not been adequately made."

Aside from the pub's importance in the area, concerns were also raised about the size and scale of the proposed Co-op, as it was felt it would come too close to neighbouring homes.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
@RichG_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton

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