Residents rage over plan to redevelop rundown pub that is magnet for 'late night raves'

Residents in Lower Gornal have said they “will be surrounded” by new homes following a bulldozer plan for a fire-ridden pub.

The Fiddlers Arms. Photo: Google
The Fiddlers Arms. Photo: Google

The Fiddlers Arms on Straits Road dates back to 1860 but after closing in 2017 has been set on fire numerous times and, according to developers, now attracts "drug abuse and late night rave parties".

Plans have now been lodged to bulldoze the pub and turn it into a cul-de-sac of nine houses. Developers say it is structurally compromised and a hub for anti-social behaviour.

But residents have fired back, saying they are sick to death and ‘can’t keep losing their history’ to new developments. One resident said: “This pub used to be the hub of a community. When ran properly it served meals and was well kept.

“It’s a Gornal landmark where pigeon flyers would meet and hold various events. This should be restored, we can’t keep losing our history. There are more than enough new houses being built in Gornal and Sedgley.”

Another resident said: “It’s an old building steeped in history, it would be such a shame to lose it for yet more housing. We will be surrounded.

“The village is already gridlocked and goodness knows how we will get out when some of the new estates are finished. I think this building should be maintained and kept for future generations to enjoy it.”

Some residents have also suggested that claims that the structure is permanently damaged by the fires are unfounded. A resident from Nally Drive said: “The report about it being structurally unsound and beyond repair is inaccurate as there is no evidence to prove the inside of the building is in this condition.

“Windows are smashed but are not structural and with boards not being replaced anti-social behaviour was always going to be a problem.”

But the developers as well as other residents say the pub is nothing but a nuisance for anyone who lives close by.

A design and access statement from developer Strait Homes Ltd states: “Due to extensive fire damage to the structure and fabric of The Fiddlers Arms, it is now impossible to preserve and restore the building to its former self.

It goes on: “It has been burned down on several occasions. It has now become a local centre for anti-social behaviour attracting drug abuse and late night rave parties resulting in innumerable complaints to the police.”

West Midlands Police has also added its support to the application. In a letter to Dudley Council’s planning committee, they said: “The Fiddlers Arms, since closing, has been a source of anti-social behaviour, and building nine new dwellings will put a stop to the ongoing ASB at this location,” the submission said.

The police said that in the year to July 2021, there had been 151 cases of anti- social behaviour reported in the area as well as 104 vehicle crimes, 56 burglaries and more than 500 violent crimes. The pub will now go before Dudley Council’s planning committee.

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