Save our Burn Naze pub, say Thornton campaigners

A campaign has been launched to try and prevent the demolition of a pub in Thornton which for decades was a popular community hub.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 8:53 am
Thornton residents are protesting against the demoliton of the Burn Naze pub. Pictured are Andrew Coward, Joanne Cooper and councillors Emma Ellison and Rob Fail.

The protesters behind the rescue bid had managed to get the Burn Naze Hotel, on Gamble Road, listed as a ‘community asset’ earlier this year and hoped this status might help preserve it as either a pub or a community centre.

But the group, Save the Burn Naze pub, were left frustrated when owners Mangrove Estates launched a successful late appeal against the listing and their application for demolition was then granted by Wyre Council.

The pub is currently de-listed and could now be flattened.

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Joanne Cooper, 65, who is leading the campaign, claims due process has not been followed by the council and she has the backing of two local councillors across the political spectrum in her efforts to save it.

However, Wyre Council insists the correct process has been followed and that the pub was de-listed after careful consideration by the listing officer.

Grandmother Joanne, of Wareing Drive, Thornton, is a former customer at the pub who has many happy memories of it, but she says the building can have a valid future.

The retired copywriter, who was alerted to the demolition plans after seeing an article in the Gazette in March, said: “I have always liked the Burn Naze and spent many happy times there, but there is more to it than that,

“There is no other building in that area that would be so perfect for a community hub.

“It has plenty of rooms for meetings, which makes it totally different from all the open plan diner pubs in the area.

“With all the new housing that has been built and is still being built in the area, there is plenty of potential for it to be retained as a pub or a community centre.

“When I first read about the demolition plans earlier this year I was really upset, and so were my family and friends.

“I wanted to see if others felt the same as we did so I set up the Facebook group and we soon had 170 members.

“We submitted our application to get it listed as quickly as we could and it was good enough to get the building listed.

“There is a lot of support behind us - we now have 207 members.

“To demolish the Burn Naze would be a terrible waste, yet our efforts to save it have been frustrated by the way the council have dealt with things.”

She added: “We object to the decision to rescind the listing as without the opportunity for us to submit further information we could not counter the assertions made by the owners agents of appeal.

“We question if due process was followed correctly, why one person can decide the outcome and that it did not need to be put to the elected councillors to consider.”

Joanne has the support of Conservative councillor Emma Ellison, who represents Bourne ward in Thornton, and Jubilee ward member Coun Rob Fail, who is also leader of Wyre’s Labour group.

The Burn Naze Hotel, on Gamble Road, was built just after 1900 and was originally the local meeting place for workers at the nearby Uniited Alkali Company ammonia soda works, which had opened in 1890 and became part of ICI in 1926.

Many of the workers lived in the close-knit houses in the Burn Naze district of the town.

In more recent years, families would meet there and the pub developed a unique community atmosphere.

But in October 2019 the pub, which had been struggling at the time, was unexpectedly closed by its then owner, Trust Inns.

A year later it was sold to Mangrove Estates, a Manchester housing firm which intends to built a block of 24 apartments on the site.

The application for listing as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ was granted in May this year and Mangrove had eight weeks to appeal the listing.

Joanne said: “I asked the council officer dealing with the case if she could let me know if the owners had appealed against the listing, so we could be prepared for it.

“Instead, I was only informed a week after their appeal had been put in and accepted - we were too late.”

“When our application was successful we secured the services of a professional funding bidder who was confident that with the right plan we would secure funding grants.

“The plan was to register as a charity group and develop plans for the use of the building before pressing ahead with bidding for funding.

“We were thinking a community centre would be the best option because this would provide benefit to more local people.

“Renting out the rooms and providing a cafe would also raise income for maintenance of the building.

“If the listing had not been rescinded we would have had five years to achieve our aims.

“Now the demolition has been approved, we are really up against it.”

Wyre Council refuted any suggested that due process had not been followed in the case of the Burn Naze Hotel.

A Wyre spokesman said: “When someone wishes to propose that a building is listed as a community asset, they are required to complete a nomination form and submit this to the council with supporting evidence.

“The group did this and after due consideration by the listing officer, the asset was listed. The owners of the property subsequently requested a review of the listing.

“The reviewing officer at the council looked at both the evidence from the nominating group and from the owner and based on the information submitted, decided to remove the property from the community asset list. As such, this building is now not listed as a community asset.

“There is no provision in the legislation or the council’s process for the nominator of the asset to be involved in the review process.

“However, the legislation does not preclude a further nomination in the future should new evidence arise.”

Mangrove Estates were not available for comment.

Not a political issue

Conservative member Coun Emma Ellison felt so strongly about the issue she joined the Save the Burn Naze group.

She said: “ This is not a party political issue.

“I lived in the Burn Naze area for 16 years and I noticed it played a really imporetant part in the local community and is also a local landmark and part of the heritage of the Burn Naze area, with its links with ICI workers.

“It could still be an amazing facility in the area, it was shame there wasn’t more investment in the pub when it was last running.

“We are too quick to allow pub chains to throw up new buildings in the area while ignoring existing buildings which have so much to offer to the local community and plenty of heritage.

“There are knitting groups, art groups, photography groups and others who are crying out for a place to meet up, somewhere that has rooms to accommodate that, like the Burn Naze.

Coun Ellison was critical of the way the listing process had been handled by the council.

She said: “The points raised in the appeal against the listing, on behalf of the developer, were given full conisderation and just accepted but there was no right of reply on behalf of the campaign group.

“They should have been given the opportunity to provide further evidence.”

She said she had sent an email to the lising officer making this point and was still awaiting a reply.

Labour Coun Rob Fail, who raised the issue at full council meeting, said: “This case raises several issues, such as the way developers can put in an application for demolition and when they get that accepted, it opens the door to the rest of their planning appication.

“They are puting in two applications. We need to look at the bigger picture here.

“It is frustrating that someone is concerned about heritage and it is not being protected enough in Wyre.

“Here is a long-established pub which has fallen on hard times but which is not being given the opportunity to bounce back,

“There are three housing estates coming to completion in the area and the potential for hundreds of customers and it is right next to Burn Naze railway station, if the train line is reopened.

“There are already hundreds of new houses being built - why do we need another block of flats?”