A ONCE-troubled East Oxford pub is set to undergo a major refurbishment to make it ‘safer’ and a ‘more enjoyable’ experience for customers.

There were fears last year the James Street Tavern could close after local business owners and residents reported ‘sporadic’ openings which saw the pub sometimes shut long after its normal 4pm start and often not opening at all.

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Owner Greene King confirmed in December that the Sadones family team behind the Old Bookbinders in Jericho, which they have been running since 2011, would be taking over the pub and a ‘significant investment’ was planned by the pub chain in the new year.

Now the company has submitted plans to Oxford City Council for a complete overhaul of the inside of the historic pub, which dates back to the 19th century, as well as providing an ‘alfresco experience’ with improvements to the current beer garden and outside of the pub.

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A design and access statement submitted with the application stated: “The proposals within the application have been designed to offer an altogether safer and more enjoyable experience for all people visiting the pub, particularly people local to the area who will have a better facility to enjoy only a short distance away.”

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It went on to say: “Our client is aiming to attract more customers to the pub by providing an up-to-date, welcoming, relaxed interior with an alfresco environment for the local community and visitors to enjoy, whilst remaining sympathetic to the existing building.”

Works will include taking down a current timber structure in the beer garden and installing a pergola wooden shelter, as well as adding artificial grass.

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Inside, the flooring will be sanded and lightly stained as well as improvements to the bar area and complete redecoration throughout.

A heritage statement said the works were ‘in keeping with the aesthetics of the building’ and ‘respectful of the heritage of the site’ but that the upgrades were designed to ‘encourage new and existing customers’.

It added that, as well as trying to bring more residents from residential streets surrounding the James Street Tavern, it hoped to become a ‘destination pub’.

Since reopening in December, the East Oxford pub has a new website and an increased presence on social media.

On its new Facebook page, the James Street Tavern is described as providing: “Decent ales, beers, wines, and cocktails with delicious crêpes, burgers and desserts. Live music and entertainment in a soon to be decked out new space.”

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