The widespread recovery in the West hospitality sector is coming too late to save some of Bristol’s landmark pubs.
Colliers International hotels specialist Peter Brunt said while the upturn was evident in some of the more rural locations suburban pubs were still being hit hard.
“One factor could be the sheer number of pubs in these suburban locations, whereas they tend to be fewer and far between in the rural areas and villages.”
The Bristol-based hotels expert was commenting on news that yet another iconic Bristol watering hole – The Air Balloon Tavern in St George – could be turned into nine flats.
The planning application relating to the proposed conversion of the Air Balloon Tavern in Air Balloon Road is the latest in a series of closures in the East Bristol area.
The Bell, on Bell Hill Road was turned into a Tesco, The Lord Rodney, also on Bell Hill Road, became a Co-op and the Chequers pub in Lodge Road, Kingswood, is scheduled to become a new Tesco, despite a widespread campaign to save it.
Peter, hotels director at Colliers International’s Broad Quay office, said: “The Air Balloon Tavern is not the only pub where an alternative use has been considered or attempted, especially given the chronic shortage of new housing across the West.”
According to real ale campaigners CAMRA pub closures are still running at a rate of 31 per week across the UK.
Peter said: “It’s clear the recovery we have seen in some areas hasn’t happened across the board. Some businesses will inevitably struggle while others might just be able to ride out the recession and emerge stronger than before.”
He went on: “These well-known pubs are stepping stones on the main roads out of Bristol and have served generations of drinkers. But a combination of the recession, people preferring to drink at home and even lingering resentment at the smoking ban have hit some businesses for six.”
Peter – who sold more than two dozen properties across the region in the last couple of years despite the downturn – said the growth in the economy had encouraged many owners to take the opportunity to get on with plans that some had shelved over the last few years – up to and including alternative uses.
“Many suburban pubs even on main routes such as the A420 have continued to struggle while inner city and country pubs have rebounded strongly. But demand is returning and I believe there are plenty of buyers out there ready to have a crack at the right pub in the right place, whatever the location. Pubs beside water and with good gardens have done particularly well through the summer months.
“My take is that owners are seeing that we can sell property and have now decided to take the plunge after years of putting up with quieter market conditions. But as always location plays a massive part in influencing prices and sales prospects.”
All enquiries should be directed to Peter Brunt, Hotels Director, Colliers International on 0117 917 2000.