Meanwhile, we understand that the tenant of the Punch Taverns-owned Carpenters Arms on Victoria Road Cambridge is having to leave the pub in June. Given that Punch have announced their intention of shedding 2500 pubs over the next four years, this must raise concerns about the future of the Carpenters. It sits on a sizeable plot and would no doubt be attractive to housing developers – and, as we know only too well, Cambridge City Council lacks planning policies which make change of use applications difficult to resist. On the other hand, a free trader or small brewer could surely do very well here. Let's hope Punch market it as a pub at a reasonable price.
Down in Shepreth, the Plough closed its doors on New Year's Day. Locals say that the absentee owner is adopting a scorched earth policy – literally, as they say he has had the grass poisoned thus making it a less attractive-looking purchase. It's been on the market for about three years albeit at a price (£595k) which suggests the owner was going through the motions so far as sale as a pub was concerned. The obvious concern is that, yet again, the owner will seek to maximise the value of the site by replacing the pub with housing. Unlike the City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council has strong pub protection planning policies and will generally turn down applications to change the use of the last pub in a settlement. Technically, the Green Man in Durnbridge Turnpike is in the parish of Shepreth but as it's situated some way from the village and on the other side of the busy A10, it's hardly an alternative. Sadly there's nothing in law to compel an owner to keep a pub open and it's not unknown for them to play a long game, sitting on a shut (and deteriorating) property in the hope that the planners will eventually give way. That's what seems to be happening at West Wratting where the White Horse has been closed for some years now despite change of use to housing being refused. The planners have stood firm here so the message for the Plough's owners should be to go for sale as a pub at a realistic price.
The Railway Tavern Great Shelford is yet another pub under serious threat. Developers want to demolish the Enterprise Inns-owned building and erect 13 flats in its place. Here the planners would have more difficulty in refusing the planning application as there are several other pubs in the village and next door Stapleford. In 1990, Great and Little Shelford had seven pubs between them – this closure would bring the total down to three.
Talking of Stapleford, and on a happier note, Graeme, the new landlord of the Longbow, is opening for breakfast during the week as well as having a lunch/evening menu, Sunday roasts and curry nights. On the beer front, Adnams Bitter is pretty well permanent with two or three rotating guests from the likes of Buntingford, Oldershaw and Thornbridge.
We mentioned last time that James Hoskins, licensee of the St Radegund in King Street Cambridge, was hoping to reopen the long-closed Earl Grey down the street. Though he obtained planning consent he unfortunately failed to convince the Licensing Committee. They were concerned about the possible adverse impact of the pub on the residents of the flats opposite (which weren't built when the pub closed in 1968). CAMRA was represented at the hearing and made the point that well-run local pubs, which the Earl Grey certainly would have been, are part of the solution rather than the problem when it comes to rowdy behaviour associated with drink. However, it was sadly not to be and a chance to reverse in a small way the recent avalanche of closures in the city was lost.
The Mitre, Bridge Street, Cambridge reopens on 14 June after a refit. Meanwhile Greene King's Boathouse in Chesterton Road Cambridge was also closed for refurbishment at the time of writing with mid-June again the scheduled date for completion.
Another Greene King managed pub in the city, the Bath House on Bene't Street, has emerged well from its eleven day refit. The basic open-plan layout is unchanged but brickwork has been exposed and vertical beams installed to help break up the space. There are also new seating arrangements around the perimeter. Greene King IPA and St Edmunds are accompanied by three guests – GK Celebration and beers from Keltec and O'Hanlons when we called.
As predicted in the last issue, Wetherspoons did indeed take a look at the former Henry's premises on Quayside Cambridge but decided the asking price was too high. He place remains on the market.
The Green Man Grantchester is the place to be on the weekend of 17 – 19 June when it holds its first beer festival. Shaun and his team have been here 18 months now and they're really pleased with how the pub has gone, hence a festival in celebration. Over 50 beers and ciders will be on sale with our local breweries strongly represented alongside the likes of York, Arran and Dark Star – all at £3 a pint for CAMRA members. Saturday has lots of family oriented activities like a bouncy castle and face painting while the University of Cambridge Jazz Orchestra will be playing. The local theme extends to the grub with the outside grill serving Grantchester's own Red Poll beef burgers. On Sunday evening, the pub's regular jazz band will be performing. Day to day, the Green Man offers four real ales and a cider, including a pump devoted to local beers.
On to our customary round-up of pubs on the market. Enterprise Inns are looking for new people to run the Red Bull Newnham, Rupert Brooke Grantchester and Three Horseshoes Comberton. Greene King seek tenants for the Queen's Head Harston, Wheatsheaf Duxford, Red Lion Cherry Hinton and Waggon & Horses and Dog & Duck, both Linton. Christie & Co's sales list includes the King Bill Heydon (£925k), Pheasant Great Chishill (£649k) and Blue Lion Fen Ditton (price on application). The Hole in the Wall Little Wilbraham is for sale via Sidney Phillips (£550k)