A VILLAGE pub could be turned into a furniture showroom and café if plans get the greenlight.

The Fox and Hounds in Ardley, near Bicester, closed back in January 2020 leaving The White Lion in the neighbouring village of Fewcott as the closest pub in the area.

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Now, Neptune – a furniture store brand - has submitted a planning application to Cherwell District Council seeking permission to completely restore and transform the site.

It wants to demolish the existing extensions and build a new single-storey extension linking the main building with the barn which sits behind the pub, previously used as a function venue.

Oxford Mail: Illustrative rendering showing proposed appearance from within the site proposed at The Fox and Hounds pub in Ardley. Pic from Cherwell District Council planning applicationIllustrative rendering showing proposed appearance from within the site proposed at The Fox and Hounds pub in Ardley. Pic from Cherwell District Council planning application

It would build a new single-storey outbuilding and replace windows, make repairs to chimneys, carry out re-rendering and other works.

In its design and access statement, Neptune says: “Neptune’s brand is founded on high quality design and honest use of materials. Having bought the freehold, the company sees the proposals as a long-term investment in the local area which will be reflected in the appearance of the entire site.

“This may be seen in contrast to a developer who is unsure as to who will occupy the space, and therefore does not know the intensity of use or be so concerned with long term quality.”

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The café would be in the new extension and be open to use by customers visiting the furniture shop as well as the general public.

It would offer a small selection of breakfast and lunch options, including cakes and pastries, all sourced and produced locally.

Oxford Mail: The Fox and Hounds Pub. Pic by Simon Williams.The Fox and Hounds Pub. Pic by Simon Williams.

The plans also include revamping the car park and removing the existing ‘unsafe’ front parking area.

This is the second time plans have been submitted to redevelop the Fox and Hounds site after proposals put forward in September 2020 by MJONG Limited were unsuccessful.

Those plans included demolishing parts of the site, changing the pub’s use to shop/café/bar and providing five residential units.

Ardley with Fewcott Parish Council supported these proposals and said a shop/café would be a community asset but Cherwell District Council refused the application in February 2021.

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With the current application, Neptune says it is keen to keep the character of the building and that the proposed works are a ‘full restoration and not merely a cosmetic makeover’.

Dozens of pubs have closed in Oxfordshire in recent years due to financial hardships and have been either demolished for housing or converted to other uses.

More recently one of the biggest threats has been the constant interruption to trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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