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Sign of the times? Revamp plan for Stafford's historic Bear pub

By Tom Oakley | Stafford | Property | Published:

A ‘tacky’ illuminated sign could be slapped onto the front of a landmark 17th century pub, under new plans.

What the front of The Bear Grill looks like now and a mock-up of how new signage could look

The Bear Grill in Stafford shut its doors on May 6 after The Lewis Partnership, which had operated from the Grade II listed site for more than 15 years, pulled out.

Dating back to 1650, the Greengate Street building is owned by Marston’s and the lease has returned to the brewery.

Now, plans have been submitted to Stafford Borough Council to rebrand the restaurant and replace the main ‘The Bear Grill’ sign with ‘illuminated colour-changing LED letters’.

If given the go-ahead, it will be fixed white in the day and fade from white to pink, to red, to purple, and then to blue in the evening.

The building housing The Bear has been a pub since 1758

A traditional hanging sign will also be changed to read ‘Beers, Burgers, Cocktails – for every occasion’.

Councillor Chris Baron, who represents the town centre Forebridge ward and is a member of the planning committee, said: “It’s good to see it’s not going to be standing empty, but they’ve got to remember it’s a listed building.

“You can’t have modern stuff stuck on there. I shall definitely be looking at the plans and calling it in to the committee.

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“Although I think it’s good that it’s going to be opened again – they have to be careful what they’re doing to a listed building.”

The developers insist that as part of the project, the setting of the building ‘will not be harmed in any way’.

A planning statement from Redditch-based Sign Specialists, says: “After recent consultations with both design consultants & our client Marston’s Plc Ltd we have agreed illumination proposal taking into careful consideration the style of the building, location of the property and how much of a visible impact this will incur on the surrounding area.

“All physical features and architectural detail will be maintained to justify its classification as a listed building.

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“The building setting will not be harmed in any way as our proposal serves only to re-brand the current public house and has been for quite some time.”

Stafford Borough Council received the plans this week and a decision will be made in the near future.

A Stafford resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I can’t believe that any council would let this change take place.

“It looks cheap and tacky. The old signage was well known and fitted in with the building. This looks awful. What is happening to our town centre?”

The Lewis Partnership, which also runs The Swan across the street from The Bear Grill and The Moat House in Acton Trussell, said it was ‘saddened’ to be leaving the Bear in March.

The building has been a pub since 1758.

About 25 years later, it became The White Bear, often referred to as The Bear, and in 1835 the building officially became know as The Bear Inn. No-one from Marston’s was available for comment.

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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