CHEERS! A historic South Tyneside pub has been saved after South Tyneside Council stepped in to buy the under-threat Victorian watering hole.
Regulars feared The Roadhouse, in Victoria Road West, Hebburn, faced the bulldozers to make way for a £12.8m town centre regeneration scheme.
But after earlier withdrawing its bid, the borough council has now made the unusual decision of buying the property, to turn it into a valuable facility, after it was recently named an asset of community value, following an application by residents.
Locals collected a 1,000-name petition to save the pub, which dates back to the 1860s, after it passed into the hands of administrators following the collapse of the Portfolio company in 2010.
The Roadhouse, known locally as “Clapps,” after a former landlord called Clapperton, was originally on the market for £165,000.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We stepped aside at the time to give the community a chance to put forward a bid of their own after some local people made it clear they wanted The Roadhouse to remain open.
“Unfortunately, this has not happened, and although a private individual has come forward with a bid, we understand that it does not include plans to invest in the property.
“We simply could not risk the pub being left without investment, detracting from the larger regeneration we are undertaking in the town centre, and with the possibility that we might need to intervene later, at increased cost to the council.”
Present tenant Tracey Nesbitt believes the pub has a future and wants to remain at the pub and protect its four part-time staff.
The council says it has “reviewed its position” to ensure that whatever happens to The Roadhouse, it reflects the desire of local people to have a high quality family pub for the benefit of regulars and the wider community.
Talks will now be held with the existing tenant about the viability of the business and how future investment could improve the building and customer experience.
The council spokesman added: “This is an exciting time for Hebburn and we cannot allow The Roadhouse to deteriorate while progress is made all around it.”
Work started on the £12.8m Hebburn hub scheme last November and the two-storey community building will eventually include a six-lane swimming pool, a new library, meeting rooms, a health suite and cafe, and other facilities.
Hebburn hub is due to be completed in spring 2015.