The building closed its doors to pub customers back in 2012 and has fallen into a state of disrepair since, having been targeted by vandals and used by drug dealers to grow 600 cannabis plants since.Now the site is on the market after its owners’ plans to turn it into an events and wedding venue failed to become a reality.
The price is being kept under wraps by the estate agent, but it says all offers will be considered for the freehold of the plot, which stretches over 2.4 acres and is made up of Hope House, which dates back to the 18th century, and a 19th century property, which was used as a colliery managers’ office until it was converted into a pub during the 20th century after the closure of the colliery in the 1960s.
Andrew Craig, which is handling the sale, suggests the land could be used for housing, but has said the owner has stated interested parties must make their own inquiries with South Tyneside Council’s planning department after entering an option agreement.
Whitburn Village Neighbourhood Forum met with Minel Leisure, which owns the site, earlier this year and was told it had hoped to extend the buildings, but that the council rejected the idea because the car park they wished to build on was within the green belt.
Since that point, they have been waiting for the authority to release its Local Plan, which is expected next year, which may release the land for development.
The company has reported that the damage to the buildings is to such a degree, the original plan is no longer financially available.
The forum, which is in the process of putting together a neighbourhood plan, has expressed concern over the suggestion it could be used for executive housing development, when other nearby have been on the market for some time and more affordable homes are needed.
Phil Leaf, its chairman, said the forum, in conjunction with CAMRA, had managed to get the council to give the site status as an asset of community value, which meant it would have been given six months to find a new use for it if it was put up for sale and put under threat.
Since then, the forum has said it has asked the council to make a push under planning rules which can call on an owner to carry out remedial work to a building.
However this was withdrawn by the council after the owners argued that it was in fact two separate buildings.
He has said villagers have been clear they want to see Hope House and the heritage it represents preserved whatever is planned for the land.
Mr Leaf added: “To me, what is disturbing is the fact that it’s like a gateway to Whitburn, it’s the first thing you see when you come in and go out and it’s not a good reflection on the village.
“We want to know what people would want to see happen to it and it has quite a lot of potential.”
The forum will next meet at Whitburn Methodist Church in North Guards on Friday, December 14, at 7.30pm.