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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Time called on Wetherspoon's plan to open first pub in Lake District

Plans for the Lake District’s first Wetherspoon pub have been abandoned at the 11th hour.

Police station photo
Former Keswick police station

Related: Wetherspoons linked with move into Lake District town

The pub chain is accusing Cumbria County Council of withdrawing from the transaction, but angry councillors insist it is Wetherspoon who has gone back on its agreement.

Rumours that the firm was looking into buying Keswick’s former police station and adjoining magistrates’ court first circulated a few weeks ago.

At the time, no-one from Wetherspoon could confirm their interest, as it is policy not to discuss proposals.

However, the chain revealed yesterday that it had already agreed a contract and was ready to exchange on the site.

Wetherspoon claims Cumbria County Council’s strategic investment and property department – who were dealing with the disposal of the buildings – have withdrawn from the transaction, forcing the deal to collapse.

Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We can confirm Wetherspoon is no longer pursuing the magistrates court building and police station in Keswick to develop into a Wetherspoon pub.

“This is very disappointing for us as we were keen to redevelop the buildings and open – subject to the necessary permissions – one of our pubs in the town.”

He continued: “The issue is that the site has no rights of way over adjoining land and therefore we would be unable to deliver to the site.

“We were working hard to resolve the issue and were speaking with Allerdale Council about the prospect of purchasing a thin strip of land so that we could service the site.

“However, Cumbria County Council decided to withdraw from the transaction.”

This accusation has been met with outrage by the council, who blame Wetherspoon themselves.

Stewart Young, cabinet member for property, said: “I am surprised and disappointed that Wetherspoon appear to have reneged on their unconditional offer for this property. It may be how Wetherspoon do business, but in Cumbria we stick to the original deal made.

“There are no reasons to delay or overcomplicate this deal if Wetherspoon honour their original unconditional offer.”

He continued: “The fact they haven't got planning permission or any licence for the premises didn't trouble them when they made the unconditional offer, so I'm not sure what exactly is troubling them now.

“If they want to stick to the terms of the deal we all originally wanted to do, then we're still interested in hearing from them.”

Mr Gershon insisted that Wetherspoon’s plans to open a pub in the Lake District still stand though.

“We would still be keen to open in Keswick and will continue to look for a suitable site,” he said.

Have your say

Looking at the articles about Keswick Wetherspoons on the WEB it is difficult to know what if anything is happening. We have been going to Keswick for years but because the beer prices have escalated beyond a joke we now take our own beer with us now as I object to being taken for a ride. This is a great pity as there are some really nice pubs like the Gun and Dog. We have just had a few days down London and even at the capital there is a much better choice and price of beer in the nice Sam Smiths, Wetherspoons and other independent pubs when compared with Keswick. I hope this much awaited development takes place to bring a much needed fair retailing in these austere times.

Posted by Len on 4 April 2013 at 15:09

We used to visit Keswick regularly, but it is now so expensive to go in a pub there - London prices, so we don't bother. When Wetherspoons come to town, other pubs close, which might give the local publicans a kick up the behind.

Posted by John on 3 April 2013 at 17:09

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