PLANS to turn a derelict pub in Oxford into flats have been refused.

The Crown & Thistle in Old Road, Headington, took its last orders on New Year’s Eve in 2011, when former owner Greene King didn’t renew the pub’s licence after deeming the business “unviable”.

Yesterday (September 22), Oxford City Council, the planning authority, rejected plans to build between seven and nine homes on the site, as councillors were concerned it would set “a dangerous precedent” for other pubs.

The application was for “permission in principle”, where the council could only consider matters relating to the location of the development, the proposed land use and the amount of development being proposed.

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The pub has been derelict since it closed almost 11 years ago, and officers said it is in a “very poor state of repair”, with “damage, dump and rubbish throughout the building” and some structural damage including a large hole in the floor.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth said: “I appreciate the current owner took the site on when it was already dilapidated, it’s not his fault, but nonetheless successive owners have allowed it to become dilapidated.

“I am concerned about setting a precedent where you can just let a building rot and then say its unviable to bring it back into use, whether it’s a pub or anything else.”

A report presented to councillors said: “While some sporadic marketing exercises have taken place on a leasehold basis, albeit for a public house that has wantonly been left to deteriorate, planning officers are of the view that the applicant failing to have marketed the public house on a freehold basis is a significant oversight.”

Councillor Louise Upton said: “It’s always a real shame to lose a community pub – but realistically this has not been there for 10 years and I am convinced that it has been well marketed, and the sums really look like they wouldn’t add up to it being a profitable business.”

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Councillor Shaista Aziz said: “We don’t want to lose another community asset, there’s too many pubs that are disappearing. But there’s been many attempts to keep this as a community space and it’s not viable.”

Councillor Ajaz Rehman said: “I think we might set a dangerous precedent for other pubs here – we should explore more avenues before we look at this site in this way.”

Councillor Lucy Pegg said: “I agree that this could be a dangerous precedent – if it doesn’t comply with policies, it is a bit dangerous to allow this to go ahead.

“I think it’s a really difficult one, but I veer towards thinking that this needs more effort for it not to become more housing and to try and keep it as a community asset.”

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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