Landlord in battle to stop historic Plymouth pub becoming offices
THE landlord of a landmark Plymouth pub has launched a last-ditch campaign to stop it being turned into office space.
Steve Bowen, landlord of the Hyde Park Hotel in Mutley, has until Wednesday morning to stop the iconic city pub from being turned into space for financial or professional services.
It comes after the property was sold by the Spirit Pub Company to local businessman Robin Reip, who told The Herald the purchase will be completed on Wednesday.
Mr Bowen, who has been landlord at the pub for just over a year, said he now hopes to appeal to Mr Reip's "better nature" and show him he can make the local pub a viable proposition.
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He said: "I have had the pub on a tenancy basis since 2011 and have always had the view to put an offer in for the freehold. I found out in early December that an offer had gone in to buy the pub and so I put my offer in on December 27. I was then told on January 2 that the contracts had already been exchanged. I had been beaten by Mr Reip fair and square.
"I first met Mr Reip last week when he told me of his intention to change the pub into office space. I made him an offer to rent the pub from him on a yearly basis but he said his main problem with the proposal was that I wouldn't be able to achieve the same covenant as a local financial business with five other units, for example.
"I completely understand his point of view in terms of business. I do believe that with enough public support it is possible to persuade him that this pub, which has been here since the 1800s, should remain as a public house."
On Friday, in just one day, Mr Bowen collected 125 signatures on his petition and had 440 people join his Facebook group Save The Hyde Park Pub.
But Mr Reip said that commercial practice has to apply.
He said: "We all know pubs are taking a hammering and closing at an alarming rate.
"We found a prospective tenant who is sound and after professional advice on their intention to change the usage of the pub to office space could therefore go ahead confidently and comfortably. We never knew of Mr Bowen's involvement or of his level of interest until last week.
"Whilst Mr Bowen feels he can turn the figures around and make the pub profitable, it is a very difficult thing to do and one is not obliged to take such a risk. We feel it would be unrealistic to allow sentiment to rule the day."
Mr Reip said he hopes to turn the upstairs areas into two luxury mansion flats for sale and it is likely a local company will take over the pub space for office use.