Former Wolverhampton EDL haunt to be turned into homes

A derelict pub that regularly hosted English Defence League meetings is to be transformed into new homes.

The Rookery Tavern on Wood Street, pictured in January 2015
The Rookery Tavern on Wood Street, pictured in January 2015

The Rookery Tavern, known locally as ‘The Rook’, in Wood Street, Lanesfield, Wolverhampton, was closed in late 2014.

It had previously been known for regularly hosting meetings for the English Defence League (EDL).

Police were called to the pub in May of 2014 after a car was driven through a crowd of people outside the pub.

It was also well-known for its community events, charity fundraisers and pool, dominoes and darts team.

Now, it is to become four one-bedroom flats, eight two-bedroom flats, and two a pair of two-bedroom semi-detached houses after the council gave the plans the green light.

The proposals had been submitted by Bailey Design Limited on behalf of Jugdeep Nijar of Nijjar Properties Limited, Walsall, to transform the 2,282 sqft site into the homes.

And, as part of an agreement with the council, the development will also give £25,000 towards nearby Springvale Park to improve its path network and play area.

The pub was closed in late 2014 - months after a car ploughed into men standing outside

Nearby residents had written in to the council in support of the application.

Barry Raybone said: “I fully support the redevelopment of the Rookery Tavern in Wood Street Lanesfield.

“It will provide much-needed housing at a time when housing is in such short supply.

“It is a very welcome development and I support it completely.

“I shall watch the development closely and with great interest.”

A resident, who preferred not to be named, in their supporting statement, said: “I fully support this. As it is an abandoned pub at the moment it is an area where many youths gather.

“Once homes and flats are in place it won’t be such an eyesore in the area.”

However, some residents raised concerns about security at the site.

Nearby resident Chhotubhai Patel said: “We support the development but would like to know what your plans and or proposals are to maintain safety and security.

“Our house will back onto the flats; we would request a large wall or similar be built to ensure security and screening, so as to avoid overlooking into our property.”

An investigation into the ground of the site also confirmed it might be subject to future coal mining.

There are 20 other pubs and bars within a one-mile radius of the site

A report by The Coal Authority said: “The property is in an area where the Coal Authority believe there is coal at or close to the surface. This coal may have been worked at some time in the past.

“The potential presence of coal workings at or close to the surface should be considered prior to any site works or future development activity.

“Reserves of coal exist in the local area, which could be worked at some time in the future.”

The report, however, states the site is not at risk of subsidence.

Councillor Malcolm Gwinnett, UKIP councillor for Springvale said: “It is sad, don’t get me wrong.

“The pub was such a well-used community pub. I had people regularly contact me when it first closed to try and get it re-opened but I think there is a great need for more good quality housing, so I do welcome this development.

“The improvements that will be made to Springvale park are more than welcome.

“I think the last time we made improvements there was back in 2008 so I think it is due with a much-needed upgrade.”

No-one from Bailey Design Limited or Nijjar Properties Limited were available to comment on the plans at the time of publication.

The pub went on the market in February 2015 after being boarded up a month earlier.

The applicant showed there are 20 other pubs and bars within a one-mile radius of the site.

Addressing people’s hopes that the pub would re-open as a possible new pub or bar, the applicant said: “In response to widespread concerns about the loss of pubs to redevelopment, even where pubs were trading profitably and remained a much appreciated local asset, a provision was incorporated in the recent Neighbourhood Planning Act which seeks to provide additional protection for existing pubs.

“However, the redevelopment of the site is acceptable in planning policy principle as the site is within a predominantly residential setting and its loss would not detrimentally affect the community social cohesion of the area given the close proximity of alternative establishments.”

According to the application, the site is also prime location for the council to consider its target as part of the Black Country Core Strategy which advises the council to provide sufficient land to deliver at least 63,000 new homes over the period 2006 – 2026.

To meet this target, formerly developed land such as the Rookery Tavern site should be renewed with new developments.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News