Express & Star

House plans for 'unviable' pub in Staffordshire given green light

A pub considered “unviable” after facing challenges including soaring costs and competition from High Street venues could become a house if plans are given the green light.

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The Eagle Inn in Eccleshall. Photo: Google

The Eagle Inn in Eccleshall has been vacant since December, a planning application submitted to Stafford Borough Council, stated.

A design and access statement submitted as part of the application said six neighbours had signed a letter supporting the proposals. It added that residents “feel The Eagle Inn has become a nuisance (given) its proximity to neighbouring properties”.

It said “Eccleshall is blessed with so many hospitality businesses and the original intention of the owner was to operate The Eagle as a sports bar. Shortly after purchasing the pub, the Covid virus struck and we entered a series of lockdowns that devastated the hospitality sector.

“Undeterred, the owner took the opportunity to undertake a full refurbishment, spending in the region of £150k to create something completely unique. As a result of various lockdowns, the business couldn’t reopen to the public until June 2021.

“As with all new businesses, the first few weeks were very successful, and the owner was optimistic. However, despite the owner’s experience and success in the hospitality sector, several trends started to conspire to quickly make the business unviable.

“The Eagle struggles to attract people from the High Street. Whilst only a short walk, the vibrancy of the High Street causes people to want to stay on a ‘circuit’ that excludes The Eagle; expensive signage, lighting, themed nights, entertainment, and offers weren’t enough to attract customers.

“Lockdowns had resulted in hospitality staff permanently exiting the industry and it was incredibly difficult to find staff to work in a late-night bar. In order to attract people, wage rates had to be increased to unsustainable levels.

“By the winter of 2021, energy prices started to shoot up – gas and electricity prices soared by nearly 400%. The Eagle had to take on utility contracts at eye-watering levels, and levels that could not be afforded without a substantial uptick in trade.

“The owner cannot re-open the venue as a public house, it is simply not viable. Similarly, the owner cannot afford to rent the business to another operator.”

The proposals to convert the Horsefair pub into a house include plans to demolish an existing toilet block and add a new extension to the rear, as well as new windows, external rendering, perimeter railings and a detached garage.