Closed Oxford pub to be revived by brewery

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Care from the community: the Holly Bush has been closed since 2015 (Image: Jaggery, Geograph)
Care from the community: the Holly Bush has been closed since 2015 (Image: Jaggery, Geograph)

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Oxford residents hope a city pub that has been purchased by Charles Wells brewery will be reopened after being closed for years.

The Bedfordshire-based brewery, which presently manages more than 200 English pubs, will reopen the Holly Bush.

The pub is part of an expansion scheme for the brewery's Pizza, Pots & Pints managed pub concept of smaller food pubs.

A planning application document submitted to the council states the brewery “strongly believes [the pub] can once again become part of the valued core facility within Oxford”.

The pub operated for a number of years under Greene King but was sold to development company VO Properties in 2014 and closed the following year.

An attempt to transform the site into housing failed. However, Oxford City Council is committed to trying to reanimate the site as a pub.

The brewery’s plans to revamp the pub include enhancing an outside seating area, expanding floor space and adding an accessible entrance, according to documents submitted to the city council.

Strong support

Susanna Pressel, city councillor for the Jericho and Osney ward, said the revival was a result of the community’s strong support for the pub.

“This pub has been rather neglected for years," she said.

“Then a couple of years ago it was bought by developers who hoped to turn it into luxury housing.

“Fortunately, the city council made it clear that we would refuse any planning application for housing on that site, because we have a policy of retaining pubs if it looks as though they could be viable.”

Pressel said local residents were “delighted” by news of the pub’s new ownership.

“This is just what they have been hoping for,” she added, citing a recent loss of a number of pubs in the area as a reason for support for the Holly Bush.

Prominent site

“The building is in a prominent place and should be able to attract passing trade as well as local trade from the large number of people who live in the area.

“If it is cleaned up and well run, with regard to what local people want, it could be well-supported and a great success.”

The councillor surveyed residents on the future of the pub a few years ago, with residents saying they felt it had the potential to be an inviting and community-focused pub.

Charles Wells chief executive, Justin Phillimore said: “The Pizza, Pots & Pints format is a key part of the Charles Wells growth strategy over the next three years.

"We are actively looking for individual sites as well as smaller, regionally based multiples to expand this portfolio.”

The pub is the second Oxford acquisition by Charles Wells, following the opening of the Oxford Blue earlier in the summer. Charles Wells will aim to increase their Pizza, Pots & Pints sites to 25 over the next three years.

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