The Queen Hotel

The Queen Hotel, boarded up and derelict

The Queen Hotel, boarded up and derelict

The Queen Hotel, a Victorian pub in Aldershot opposite the eyesore Westgate development, is sitting derelict and boarded up. Earlier in the week it was open.

18 pubs a week are being destroyed, not because of failings by pub landlords or because beer is too expensive, they are closing because greedy zombie pubcos are screwing the pub landlords, driving them out off business, then selling the pub off for redevelopment.

It would be a tragedy if The Queen Hotel is demolished or even if it was gutted for housing.

It should be listed by the local council as a building of local historic importance, as it meets the criteria. But is it? If it is, it affords a degree of protection as it cannot be demolished, but then why are two pubs in nearby Farnborough, The Ship Inn and The Tumbledown Dick not listed.

The local council lacks a pub protection policy, even though required to have one by national planning policy. A pub protection policy would require the pub to be put on the market as a pub. Though I note there was a For Sale board on the pub which has recently been removed. But for sale as what, a pub or a site with redevelopment potential?

The All Party Parliamentary pub group has written to the local council to ask what is their pub protection policy. It will be interesting to see what is their response, in the light they lack one and the council were told they are not required to have one.

The good news: Wetherspoon may have pulled out of trashing The Arcade. Wetherspoon may be the buyer of The Queen Hotel. But this needs to be confirmed.

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9 Responses to “The Queen Hotel”

  1. simontaylor Says:

    If RBC don’t have a Pub Protection Policy and are required to have one, what’s stopping residents to raise a legal challenge?

    But I suppose RBC still couldn’t force a company to keep a pub open if the company feels it’s losing money.

  2. keithpp Says:

    Local residents should take a Judicial Review on two counts

    – failure to list buildings of merit that meet the local criteria

    – failure to implement a pub protection policy

    True, cannot force a pub to be kept open, but if up for sale, can force to be sold as a pub.

    Pubs are not being sold because they are not viable, though not viable for pub landlords being screwed by greedy zombie pubcos. They are being sold because the greedy pubcos are zombie companies desperate for cash flow to pay off their bank loans, or as in most cases, to meet their interest payments. Well run pubs free of the tie of greedy pubcos are viable.

    As yet, we do not know the situation of The Queen Hotel, other than it has closed down and is now sitting derelict and boarded up.

    The best option is an independent person or the local community take it over, The second best it is Wetherspoon and they have pulled out of trashing The Arcade.

    But, if it is earmarked for redevelopment, then the Save The Tumbledown Dick group must open a secondary front to fight any redevelopment of The Queen Hotel, and link with those fighting the trashing of The Arcade.

    The questions that have to be asked is why no listing, why no pub protection policy? These questions were asked at full council (I think February), the response was a pack of lies.

  3. simontaylor Says:

    Do you have any idea
    1) why the Tumbledown Dick group have not started a judicial review? – it would seem logical that this group would be the best to do this, and I would have thought it was in their interest.
    2) Why they have not made a bid for the pub in the first place?

  4. keithpp Says:

    I have advised the Tumbledown Dick group to file a Judicial Review. I have even provided lawyers.

    It would not be wise to make a bid now.

    With the pub listed, with a pub protection policy in place, the price drops as it cannot be demolished or sold for redevelopment.

    With the pub listed, with a pub protection policy in place, the McDonald’s application becomes a non-starter, it would have to be REFUSED. If it was not refused, there would be very good grounds to file a Judicial Review. Again the price drops.

    The Council should be given ten days to list The Tumbledown Dick, to modify and adopt the excellent Cambridge pub protection policy, if they refuse, file a Judicial Review.

    The council has made it very clear they wish to see the McDonald’s bid forced through: failure to list the pub, they commissioned a shoddy report on the pub, they lied to councillors about the status of the pub and a national planning policy re pubs, have refused to meet with concerned local residents (and yet are happy to have regular meetings with McDonald’s).

    That The Tumbledown Dick is not listed is either gross maladministration and incompetence, or to facilitate development which is Misconduct in Public Office (a criminal offence). The same applies to The Ship Inn and The Queen Hotel.

    All three pubs meet the criteria for a local listing, if the criteria is met, they have to be listed. And yet they are not listed.

    • simontaylor Says:

      Good comments, but of course the council are of no obligation to meet with residents over the building, after all, it’s owned by Bridehall and has nothing to do with anyone else. McDonald’s are the designated owners, so it’s right that they meet with them.

  5. keithpp Says:

    The council are first and foremost accountable to the local community, not greedy developers who the council get into bed with, greedy developers out to make a fast buck with no interest in the locality. The council has also met with McDonald’s.

    That someone owns a building is irrelevant. It does not make them free to do as they please.

  6. keithpp Says:

    Aldershot News finally catches up with the news (I have known of this for at least two weeks):

    It is excellent news that Wetherspoon have pulled the plug on plans to trash The Arcade. It makes a mockery of the planners who fell over backwards to push the plans through and well done those Aldershot councillors on the planning committee who threw the plans out.

    People power works. Wetherspoon pulled the plug on The Arcade due to the adverse publicity it was getting.

    It is good news The Queen Hotel is not going to be demolished or turned into a block of flats.

    But we do need to keep this under very close scrutiny Looking at the size of The Queen Hotel, it is big enough for a bar downstairs, dining upstairs. It needs to be made very clear to Wetherspoon, a pub is welcome, a large bar for binge drinkers is not.

    It is though a pity that yet another chain moves in as this is yet more money drained out of the local economy, more money drained out of a deprived area.

    Nor can it be stressed often enough, this pub must be listed and there must be a pub protection policy in place.

    If the pub is listed, it cannot be demolished, cannot easily be altered.

    A pub protection policy makes it very difficult to sell pubs off for development.

    London Mayor Boris has issued guidelines on pubs to all the London Boroughs.

  7. Anonypubs Says:

    The paper version of the Aldershot News didn’t get it quite right as it claims the hotel has been boarded up for months, but that’s the media for you.

    Wetherspoon was made aware of the Queen Hotel being available as soon it came unexpectedly onto the market. They were the obvious choice seeing that independent ownership had failed and the Arcade saga looked set to drag on for ages with no guarantee of success. Happily it looks like they agreed with that assessment and jumped at the opportunity.

    Interestingly, they do intend to extend the building, which suggests that they want retain the hotel part too, with the bar/restaurant area remaining solely on the ground floor. As they have no other hotels this close to London, that would be a sensible thing for them to do; if practical. Hopefully they can make a lasting success of it where others have eventually failed.

    And another chain moving in does not drain money out of the local economy. A pub (and a hotel) requires employees, and labour costs are quite a significant proportion of most businesses’ costs. Plus Wetherspoon also buy beverages from from local breweries where available, and there is at least one in the local area.

    And finally, a word about binge drinkers. Bar size is irrelevant. Binge drinkers need lots of cheap alcohol and somewhere to drink it undisturbed (i.e, supermarkets and parks, or home). Publicans are obliged to ensure their customers behave whilst on their premises, and the police are supposed to prevent people being drunk and disorderly in public.

  8. keithpp Says:

    That’s Aldershot News for you.

    Yes, publicans are supposed to ensure responsible drinking. But seldom do.

    Yes, police should deal with public disorder, but seldom do, citing lack of manpower, unless it is legitimate protest, then the manpower can be found.

    Size does matter. The problem is not one of local pubs, it is one of large bars.

    Go to Aldershot Friday or Saturday night, when the town centre becomes a war zone.

    Or try Guildford, especially Bridge Street. A couple of years ago, a judge said the police lose control.

    In Wetherspoon a guy got glassed a couple of years ago.

    Early evening, on a Friday evening, the drunken scum start pouring into Guildford, bottles and cans in hand already drunk,

    Then visit Guildford Station late night, or worse, get on one of the departing trains.

    A couple off weeks ago, a guy got killed, pushed under a train. My only surprise is it has not happened sooner, and I had warned the station staff that sooner or later this would happen.

    The drunken scum should not be allowed on the station, let alone the trains.

    The only thing keeping the lid on the situation in Guildford on a Friday and Saturday night are Street Angels patrolling the streets.

    A little lesson in economics: Chains drain money out of the local economy. A miniscule amount is retained in the form of minimum wage staff.

    Wetherspoon buy from local breweries, beer on short sell-by-date, which would otherwise be poured down the drain, which they pick up at give away prices.

    I cannot see anyone wishing to stay at a hotel above a noisy bar. But then I cannot see why anyone would wish to stay the night in Aldershot.

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