THE future of an Oxford pub is still uncertain after plans to build three homes on its car park were approved.
Oxford City Council has approved proposals for three and four-bedroom homes on the car park of the Crown and Thistle in Old Road, Headington.
The pub has been closed since New Year’s Day 2012, when owner Greene King claimed it was unviable as a business.
Its new owners, identified by the Land Registry as Shinder Pal Singh, Surinder Jeet Kaur and Gurdeep Kaur, of Marston, launched a planning bid in June.
Neighbours who opposed the plans have spoken of their disappointment that the planning application was approved.
Headington resident Stephanie Jenkins said: “My concern is that if they take away the car park, it loses its viability as a community resource.
“I’m not sure it’s ever going to be a pub again, but if they want to turn it into anything like a restaurant, people aren’t going to go there unless they can park.
“There’s no protection for it. It’s not in the conservation area. It’s not listed. They could knock it down tomorrow if they want to.”
In the application, the owners said they would carry out a review of the pub’s viability but have conceded it is “unlikely” to reopen as a traditional pub.
The planning application says: “Like many traditional pubs, trade has suffered over recent years and it is unlikely to ever reopen in the same format.
“But like many other pubs, the owners consider it may have a future if it is smartened up with a greater emphasis on serving food.”
When work is completed, the three homes will also cover the site of a shed and an Aunt Sally pitch next to the pub.
Campaign for Real Ale spokesman Tony Goulding said he was cynical about pledges to try to bring the pub back into use.
He said: “From our point of view, you can’t trust developers, and building homes on the car park gives no guarantee that the pub will be saved.”
The present building dates back to the 1800s, but before that the site at the corner of Old Road and Titup Hall Drive was home to a coaching inn for about 200 years.
Called Titup Hall, the inn was on the only route from Oxford to London and in 1669 was the departure point of the first coach to reach the capital in a day.
Queen Elizabeth I was greeted there when she visited Oxford, as was King Charles I in 1624.
The owners of the pub were unavailable for comment.
The planning approval was made by planning officers under delegated powers.