Community fights to save Merseyside pub from development

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Community effort: Residents hope to prevent the Blundell Arms, Birkdale, from being knocked down for houses (image: Corin Dickinson)
Community effort: Residents hope to prevent the Blundell Arms, Birkdale, from being knocked down for houses (image: Corin Dickinson)

Related tags: Pub, Community

The proposed residential development of a Merseyside pub has been opposed by a community campaign which wants the pub to reopen and host a dementia café.

Developers have lodged plans to knock down the Blundell Arms, in Birkdale in Southport, and build eight houses on the land.

A community benefit society has pushed back against the plans and would look to open the site as a community pub with the Plunkett Foundation’s ‘More than a Pub’ scheme.

The group has collected money from local people to buy the property.

Community value

“We are in the period where we get to make objections and doing all the things we are supposed to do in order to save our local pub,” support worker Jason McCormack told The Morning Advertiser​.

If the community group succeeds, families living with dementia would be able to meet at the pub to socialise, share coping mechanisms and speak to healthcare professionals during quieter daytime hours.

McCormack moved to the area when he was 13 from Liverpool and learned to program computers in a computer club in an upstairs room at the pub.

“That led to a 20-year career with Merseyside Police where I became responsible for their IT and for five other north-West police forces too,” he said.

"My dad took me to the pub before he passed away and after that, just before I turned 18, I was taught how to behave in that pub.

“When you go out to a pub and you're being a bit loud somebody comes over and has a word with you.”

Birkdale residents have big plans for The Blundell Arms (image: Corin Dickinson)
Birkdale residents have big plans for The Blundell Arms (image: Corin Dickinson)

Anti-social behaviour

Brightly-lit pubs can act as a major deterrent for anti-social behaviour, McCormack said, recounting an assault on his brother and his girlfriend near the pub.

“On a Friday night at about 10.30pm, not long after the pub closed in 2016, my brother’s girlfriend came running to the door. She had blood on her.

“They had been attacked by some local youths who were hanging around and had set on them with abandoned broken benches with nails in.

“Fortunately, loads of people in the street came out to help after they heard the kerfuffle but I thought then if we are left without a pub, we are not going to know any of these kids growing up,” he said.

Place and identity 

McCormack added: "Pubs are not just places to drink, but are central to people's sense of place and identity through their spaces for people to meet."

Ideas for the pub also include a wheelchair accessible farm garden, a community, business and learning centre providing community IT training and resources, a microbrewery, a gin distillery, a children’s play area and a community radio station. 

The Dell played host to the Bothy Folksong Club, thought to be one of the longest-running folk clubs in the world, for 38 years.

Residents' urges come as a report from the Plunkett Foundation this week concluded community pubs were "at the forefront of strengthening the rural economy", despite a wider trend of falling pub numbers.

Supporters of the campaign are encouraged to write to Sefton Council objecting to the residential development plans before 29 January 2019.

  • Interested in running a pub? You can find out more about pubs for sale, lease and tenancy on the MA’s​ property site​.

Related topics: Property law, Events & Occasions

Related news

Show more