ANOTHER West Lancs pub is set to be lost after planners granted permission to convert the Railway Tavern in Lathom to a five-bed home.
Speaking at a planning committee meeting on August 29, Cllr Roger Bell said it would be a “very significant loss” and questioned whether a serious enough effort had been made to market the pub as a going concern.
The officers’ report that went before planners stated that owners Punch Taverns had marketed the property over a significant period of time and the pub was currently making a loss of more than £40,000 a year. Both CAMRA and a neighbouring resident also expressed the view the pub could be successful if offered as a freetrade pub.
But planning officer Kath Thomas told the committee the owners had met with all the council’s requirements in their attempts to market the property – as a freehold for 12 months and previously for leasehold over a 14 month period.
Cllr David O’ Toole was one of those expressing sorrow at the closure of a rural pub but said one of the reasons such pubs struggle was that a lot of people have to drive to get to them and so don’t buy a drink.
The plans were approved and following the decision, Mike Perkins, branch and press contact for Southport and West Lancs CAMRA, said: “CAMRA’s view is that we are very sad to see the decline of pubs across the country. Pubs are closing every week, particularly rural pubs like the Railway Tavern. Some pubs are run like free houses, like the Hop Vine and the Ship in Lathom, which do very well as free houses. They aren’t restricted like those run by pub companies. The other issue is supermarkets selling cheap booze. The problem for the Railway is it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s next to the station but trains aren’t regular. We’ve lost the Becc, the Junction in Burscough and the Bluebell in Barton in the last few years and we’re disappointed every time a pub closes.”
Cllr Edward Pope asked whether a condition could be added to retain the Royal Mail post box and parish council notice board, and while this wasn’t added there will attempts made to relocate them in the village.