South Bristol News: the Windmill Hill pub’s future remains in doubt after victory to prevent it becoming flats

The pub is now empty

Windmill Hill pub

By Harry Mottram. Last November planners turned down plans by the owners Bar Wars to convert the empty Windmill Hill pub into flats.
It led to a bad tempered outburst by Mike Cranney of Bar Wars who suggested the decision by council planners was bordering on ‘the corrupt’ according to a report in Bristol Live and he claimed councillors had already made up their minds about the plans.
Cllr Lisa Stone said because the application for change of use had been turned down it didn’t follow that he had to turn it back into a pub.
She told South Bristol Voice in an exclusive interview: “There’s no law to say he has to do anything. He could just sit on that land for another five or ten years and let it go into rot and ruin.
“The local community got together and fought against the plans to turn it into flats so the planning was turned down unanimously by the council’s planning committee.”
The landlord of the pub also didn’t pull his punches over the decision with the locals who had objected to the plans and persuaded the council to reject the change of use.
In an article on Bristol Live he said the locals felt they were ‘entitled’ to keep the pub.
Windmill Hill Green Party Cllr Lisa Stone said she had a conversation with the community group campaigning to keep the pub.
She said: “I explained that just because the plans were rejected doesn’t necessarily mean he has to sell it to the locals as a community pub.
“They seemed to think though that the owners would be fair and come up with some compromise.
“There are people in the background who are negotiating with Mike Cranney but we have to wait and watch this space.”
The planning decision is another chapter in a long running battle to retain the pub on Windmill Hill and in broader terms it fits into a picture of pub closures across the country prompting locals to challenge the decision of the owners to throw in the towel and redevelop the often highly valuable properties into accommodation.
Writing for the website mypropertypowerteam.co.uk Graham Phelps said the fact the pub is up for sale is a likely indication that it is not profitable.
He said: ” However, it is worth finding out why a particular pub is up for sale or ceased trading.”
He lists issues with the brewery, high overheads and simply the wrong landlord. But he continued: “However, if the pub was popular but not profitable, this is easier to fix. Clean the place up, define your market and rent or lease to a suitable ‘personality’ landlord with a low rent and profit share. A change of personality can really make a difference.”
Around the corner from the Windmill pub is the Rising Sun community pub which perhaps shows one potential future should the Windmill ever return to being a hostelry.
An online fundraising campaign to raise cash to buy the pub ultimately failed to raise anywhere near the £500,000 asking price, while earlier last year a landlord of pubs in Wells and Chew Magna wanted to buy it for around £400,000 had his bid turned down according to Bristol Live.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Cllr Stone, “it doesn’t now follow it will become a pub again. It was turned down for change of use but it will probably go to appeal.”
She thought it could still be sold as a pub or leased as a pub – possibly by the local community if the price was right.

South Bristol Monthly News Magazine is free. Thousands of copies are delivered door to door in Bedminster, Knowle, Southville, Totterdown and Ashton every month – and to shops, libraries and super markets in Bristol. More at https://issuu.com/southbristolvoice and https://www.facebook.com/southbristolvoice/ and https://www.southbristolvoice.co.uk/…Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/https://www.facebook.com/harry.speed.9275/