A BOLD bid to breathe new life into an historic Evesham landmark has been given the thumbs up by town council chiefs.
Plans to transform Evesham’s Working Men’s Club on Merstow Green into retail premises, business and living space were backed at a meeting on Monday (January 12).
The historic site dates back to the 17th century but has been empty since October 2013 when the once popular club, established in 1879, was forced to close its doors despite two crisis meetings to save the ailing business.
But the new plans, submitted by Stuart Homer, would see part of the building and boundary walls demolished and a change of use applied.
If approved, the proposals would then see a shopping area, a place for financial and professional services, a food and drink spot or drinking establishment as well as two additional flats built.
Approval would sit alongside existing permission granted in February last year to part demolish the skittles alley and erect four one bedroom flats and two two bedroom houses.
Speaking during the meeting, Coun Gerry O’Donnell said: “This is a prime site in Evesham and will be much more important when Waitrose opens so I think what he is doing is getting a wide approval to see where the market takes him in terms of letting opportunities.
“You can’t make scramble eggs without breaking an egg, so there will be some disruption there but I would like to see this site developed.” he added.
Concerns were raised over the proposals for 10 parking spaces and the amount of traffic which would be created during any building works.
Coun Richard Jones said: “There’s potentially a lot of building work to go on under the old application.
“The problems I have got with it are knowing down that aspect in the middle to create a car park. “It’s going to create a lot of lorries going in an out with a lot of rubble.
“It’s potential for disaster not to mention the mess it’s going to cause while it’s all being done, just to create car parking.” he added.
Neighbouring business, the Trumpet Inn, have also voiced their concerns about the proposed development.
A letter from Mark Singlehurst on behalf of the Hook Norton brewery, said: “Hook Norton has no objection to the proposed works to the listed building itself, which would improve its heritage value and bring it
back into beneficial use, but is objecting only to that element of the proposal, which seeks to create a
vehicular access route directly in front of the Trumpet Inn.”
A final decision will be made by Wychavon District Council’s planning committee at a later date.