AN HISTORIC pub in Headington could yet be saved by being turned into a gastropub.

After about 400 years of there being a pub on the site of the Crown and Thistle, its owner Greene King claimed it was “unviable” and closed it down on New Year’s Day 2012.

The brewery sold the Old Road pub and its new owners have now unveiled plans for the site.

A planning application for three four-bedroom houses has been submitted to Oxford City Council for part of the site.

According to the Land Registry, the registered owners are Shinder Pal Singh, Surinder Jeet Kaur and Gurdeep Kaur, of Marston, who purchased the pub for £425,000.

The application says the owners will carry out a review of the pub’s viability before deciding what to do with the building itself, but have conceded it is “unlikely” to open as a traditional pub.

In the planning application it says: “Like many traditional pubs, trade has suffered over recent years and it is unlikely to ever reopen in the same format.

“But also like many other pubs, the owners consider it may have a future if it is smartened up with a greater emphasis put on serving food.”

If the planning application is approved, the three homes will be built facing onto Old Road on the site of a shed and an Aunt Sally pitch next to the pub.

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 for the first coach from the city to reach the capital in a day.

Queen Elizabeth I was greeted there when she visited Oxford, as was King Charles I in 1624.

Tony Goulding, of Oxford branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said: “It is a difficult situation.

“We would like to see it return as a pub first and foremost if there is a compromise of building houses on the site to help its viability.

“What we really want is someone interested in taking it on as a pub, and food is part of the scene now.”