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JD Wetherspoon springs back for new Wells pub application

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

The Wells Emporium site on Priory Road

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JD Wetherspoon are back for another round 12 months after having plans for a megapub in Wells turned down.

The pub chain have been working on their new planning application for the Wells Emporium site on Priory Road since their previous plans were rejected last September. Mendip district councillors threw out the plan last year claiming there was no need for a Wetherspoon in the city.

They were worried it would damage the look of the approach to the historic city centre and affect people living nearby.

The scheme was rejected last year by 15 votes to two.

However, the change of circumstances on Priory Road may now favour the application.

Last time the council’s opposition to the EMI Club moving to the neighbouring site had been a major factor.

Now that the club has been given permission with no apparent problems the way could be clear for a Wetherspoon pub to open.

Company spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon is very keen to open a pub in Wells.

“We have enjoyed great success with our pubs in the region, however at present we do not have a pub in Wells.

“Aside from the investment and jobs which will be created, we believe a Wetherspoon pub will be an asset to the town and a good addition to its social scene.

“The Emporium offers a great building in a superb location and one that we believe can be developed into a fantastic pub.”

The pub, provisionally named The Three Springs in tribute to the water courses that give the city its name, would be food focussed and Wetherspoon believe half its trade would come from serving meals.

A major stumbling block last year was the operation of the front beer garden – now Wetherspoon say they would take it out of use at 7pm each evening.

The company took the step of sending their own investigator – a former police officer – to Wells undercover to analyse the city’s pubs.

Not everyone will be as enthusiastic as many of the previous concerns remain.

Steve Wilson, landlord of the King’s Head in the High Street, feels that it could lead to other pubs closing.

He said: “They’ll get in and slowly nibble at the pie.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere near enough people here. They need an awful lot of footfall to make it work.

“When they don’t get enough they’ll start chucking offers in and turn it in to a night time venue for weekends.

“If I lost my weekend trade it could bankrupt me. I would have to adapt and probably change into a posh restaurant.

“Customers should be wary of thinking that everywhere else is safe.

“If all that people want is price then what can we do?

“I have no problem with Wetherspoon in principal but I don’t think it will work in Wells and I worry what damage they will do in the meantime.

“If it doesn’t work then people might find they don’t have a King’s Head either.”

Details of the plan can be seen at www.mendip.gov.uk and searching for planning application 2012/1196.

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