Jack Russell pub set to make way for flats after redevelopment plans backed

9 Mar 2017 / Matt Oliver

A LONG-derelict pub in Marston is set to make way for 16 flats after plans for its redevelopment were approved.

The Jack Russell, in Salford Road, has been at the centre of a long-running saga since it was sold by brewery Greene King in October 2015.

But at a meeting on Wednesday, councillors on Oxford City Council’s east area planning committee cleared the way for it to be demolished, despite calls from residents to throw out the plan.

The pub was badly damaged by fire in an arson attack in November. 

Marston city councillor Mick Haines said: “The community is totally against this proposal. 

“There are no community facilities included, this will replace the pub with a towering carbuncle. 

“People are open to redevelopment but not one that seeks to make as much money as possible at huge expense to the community.”

Businessman Max Tucker also told councillors that he represented a ‘consortium of investors’ who could revitalise the Jack Russell.

But planning officers told councillors that approval for housing at the site had already been granted in principle in 2015.

Officer Adrian Arnold said residents would have to negotiate with the landowners, Zaiqat and Shoqat Ali Saddique, if they wanted to save the pub.

But he added: “That is a matter for those parties and is nothing to do with the application being considered tonight.”

City councillor Mary Clarkson, who also represents Marston, admitted the committee had ‘very little room for manoeuvre’.

She added: “We are where we are. I would like to see a community room but I accept that would require another application.”

It was approved unanimously by councillors.

Marston Court petition sees surge of support

Mick Haines with a different petition for the Somerset House pub

2 Mar 2017 / Will Walker

HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition to help protect the future of a day centre.

Marston Councillor Mick Haines first launched the petition last month in a bid to drum up support for the Marston Court Day Centre in Marston Road, Oxford.

It came after Oxfordshire County Council approved plans to reduce the number of council-funded day centres from 22 to eight, saving £3.14m each year by 2019.

The Marston centre, run by the Orders of St John Care Trust, has not been earmarked for closure but the city councillor said that he wanted to show county councillors just how much support there was for the centre in his community.

He said: “The county council is closing day centres and Marston Court is very important to the community.

“There is no sign yet that it will be shut but day centres are really important here and if it was to be shut it would affect a lot of people.

“People look forward to going to that centre and it employs a number of people too.”

The day centre operates out of the care home between 10.30am and 2.30pm every week between Monday and Friday.

It is used by between 12 and 15 people each day and employs between two and three people out of the care home staff daily.

Asked why he launched the petition the city councillor said: "I am getting in first to ensure that it is protected and is a day centres that will stay open. We definitely need to keep this one open.”

Since he launched the petition it has been signed up by ore than 540 people. Cllr Haines plans to keep the drive for support going until March 11 when he will deliver the petition to the county council in person.

He said: “It is a way to show them just how much support there is for this and everyone I have been to so far says it is a very good idea.

“Some people have said that their parents and also their grandparents may be the ones using the day centre next so it is important to support it for our future.

“Residents so far have been telling me it’s a very good idea and they are really keen to support it.”

Marston Court provides residential care for 39 people, with the separate day centre operating on weekdays out of the same building.

It offers an opportunity for people to socialise and meet others or allow the person caring for them to take a break or run errands.  

Senseless' vandals trash football clubhouse

26 Feb 2017 / William Walker

THE 'senseless' destruction of a life-saving defibrillator at a football clubhouse is part of a surge in vandalism across the Marston area according to residents and councillors.

Yobs smashed up a defibrillator after breaking into the Marston Saints Football Club at Boults Lane on February 14, and left the site in disarray, with paint strewn around the club house and rubbish left behind.

Vice chairman at the club Sam White, 24, said that he arrived on the scene at about midday the next day to find a complete mess.

He said: “The defibrillator was just in pieces and it had been scattered all over the car park and around the club building.

“Until very recently we haven’t seen vandalism like that but in just a few months there has been damage to trees and allotments and with litter being thrown about and left behind.

“But that has only been in the last few months, before that we hadn’t seen very much of it at all.

“It is frustrating more than anything, the club went to a lot of effort to bid for this defibrillator. It was left outside so that the community could use it not just us, we didn’t keep it locked up.

“The absolute worst thing would be if somebody in the allotments for example needed to use it and you can’t do anything about it because it’s gone.”

Dick Tracey, Division Commander for South Central Ambulance Service has been leading a campaign, supported by the Oxford Mail, to ensure that no one in Oxfordshire is more than 10 minutes away from a public defibrillator.

He said: "All vandalism is pointless exercise but to vandalise something that could save somebody's life is disgusting.

"It is possible that the vandals didn't consider that it may be one day needed for their friends and family and people close to them."

The British Heart Foundation, which installed the kit on October 16 at a cost of £1,500, called it a 'senseless' act to ruin a piece of equipment which is designed to save lives.

Meanwhile, police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them on 101, and the latest act of vandalism in Marston comes only a few months after Mortimer Hall recreation ground was torn up.

In November park benches were set alight at the Marston field and trees were felled, including a memorial tree put up for parish councillor Roy Jones who died in May 2014, aged 78.

Marston councillor Mick Haines said of the latest act of vandalism: "There is at the moment an issue of vandalism in Marston. They are targeting this area.

“It is a big concern at the moment and it is just senseless damage that they are causing. It’s scandalous as far as I’m concerned.

“It has just stared happening only recently, nothing like this has happened before the recent attacks like at the Mortimer Hall recreation ground.

“I have not heard that much from the police but I don’t see them around much recently.

“It is quite alarming for residents. I think probably a bigger police presence in that area at the moment would be a good idea.”

New Marston post office hailed a success

15 Feb 2017 / William Walker

A TRANSFORMATION of a popular Marston post office has been hailed as a resounding success by residents and councillors.

Marston post office, located inside the Costcutter at Old Marston Road, was re-opened to the public last week after shutting its doors for the refurbishment on January 28.

Now it has been transformed into a new 'Post Office Local' branch which features longer opening hours and additional banking services for its customers.

Councillor Mick Haines welcomed the re-launched facilities and said it had a particular significance to him as it came more than a decade after he took a petition, signed by some 1,200 people, to Downing Street in order to save the then threatened post office.

He said the site had become something of an unofficial community centre for residents to come together and socialise as well as conduct their day-to-day postal services.

He said: “I have been in and I am very pleased, and I am really over the moon with the refurbishment.

“It is such an important asset for the community and particularly for the elderly that regularly use it. It is a place for the community to meet up with each other and chat.

"It is always very busy and well used and it would be a shame to lose it, its a real benefit for the community to have."

He added that fellow residents who had visited the new branch had been 'delighted' with the makeover.

The new post office will now be open for an additional 43.5 hours each week, with new opening hours from Monday to Saturday between 7.30am and 9.30pm, and on Sunday between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

There are also new manual banking services for customers as well as banking transfer service Transcash and Parcelforce International Services.

Cheques will continue to be accepted at the branch as before.

Sue Whittall, Post Office Area Manager, said of the new 'modernised' facilities: “Opening hours have almost doubled at Marston Road Post Office.

“We are making it easier for customers to get their cash, send and collect their mail and do their banking because we know how important these services are to local residents. Customers can now visit the branch seven days a week from early to late.

“We are confident that this vibrant new-style Post Office at the heart of the local community will meet customer needs.

“This modernisation is part of a major investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office and will secure services for the future.”

Phase two of Marston flood scheme kicks off with 'ground breaking' ceremony

3 Feb 2017 / William Walker

THE launch of the next phase of a £2.2m flood alleviation scheme that will protect 110 homes from flash flooding was marked at a special 'ground-breaking' ceremony.

Residents of Northway and Marston have been hit by flash flooding in recent years because of the proximity to Peasmoor Brook and the Headington Hill tributary.

The city council-led project which began in November will see natural embankments installed and the lowering of the ground to create temporary flood storage.

The second phase, launched at Court Place Farm Recreation Ground on Wednesday, will see the three flood storage areas built.

City councillor John Tanner called it a 'big step forward' and said: “I am very pleased that the city council has gone and taken this extraordinary measure.

“We are not the flood authority but we think this is important so we found the money to get the job done.

"It will mean that when we do get flash flooding homes will be protected."

Fellow councillor Farida Anwar added: “I am extremely pleased with this scheme. This is a good thing that’s going for Marston and Northway.

“I am glad that the city council is supporting this as it is very important for the area and the residents.”

There were warnings, however, that despite the lauded efforts to protect residents it may not be enough.

Flood victim and Stockleys Road, Northway, resident Betty Fletcher welcomed the project and said it had come as a relief but warned that more needed to be done.

The 72-year old said: "In my opinion I don’t think this has gone far enough. I think that Thames Water should be looking at replacing old antiquated pipes.

“This scheme is a great asset but we still need Thames Water to come up with some new piping.

“I am pleased that the scheme is ongoing because we have had so much flooding in our streets.

“I have lived here for 23 years and for 22 of those we have lived in fear of water coming into our homes.

“The worst flooding was in 1998 and then flash floods in 2012. The streets were covered in water, it was just flooding over the pavements and all the cars. It was everywhere.”

Marston councillor Mick Haines agreed that there was more that needed to be done to protect against future flooding.

He said: "I think it’s a very good idea but I am still concerned for Marston and I would still like to see a proper sewage pump station on the back of the houses.

“This is a start and I do appreciate it is being done but we still need to do more to protect the people of Marston.”

The project will be completed in summer 2017 and is funded in part by the Environment Agency, who put up £1.6m of funding, and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership who pledged £600,000.

A Thames Water spokesman said: "We’ve supported the city council in developing the scheme, and as part of a review found no problem with the overall condition of either the water or wastewater pipes in the area.”

Fire-ravaged Marston pub could finally be resurrected as a bar

22 Jan 2017 / William Walker

THE long-running saga surrounding a closed-down Oxford pub, damaged in a suspected arson attack, has taken a surprise twist, with plans to resurrect it as a bar once again.

The Jack Russell Pub, in Salford Road, Marston, has long been derelict, with owners submitting applications to demolish the building and develop the site for flats.

In November, fire gutted the building in an attack which police blamed on suspected arsonists.

Now, the owner of Templar’s Bar and Kitchen in Barns Road, Cowley, Ronnie Pollitt, has given a glimmer of hope for the pub's future, pledging to buy it in a bid to restore it to its former glory.

Agent for the developer Max Tucker said: “We have got a lot of sympathy for people who want a pub there. The developers are also community minded, so they want to purchase the land and resurrect the pub. They also plan a community centre as well to go along with it.

“We have spoken to the parish council who say they would be happy to support that plan."

He said plans were at an early stage, and depended on dialogue with the owner.

He said that there was no indication yet of what form the resurrected pub would take, the services that would be offered, or the style of community centre.

The pub has a long and chequered history and previously been subject to a community buy-out bid, a bid which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Site owners have also made efforts to demolish the building and erect 16 flats in a three-storey building in its place, with a planning application currently pending determination by Oxford City Council.

Responding to the news of the potential buy-out Marston councillor and long-time campaigner to bring the pub back to life, Mick Haines, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “Its fantastic news. I am really excited about it to think we could go back to a pub.

“We have a shortage of pubs in our area and for the local people it will be really good because we have fought for a long time over this.

“And to think something is coming forward to do something about it.

“I think it will work because these people are really keen to do it and it is quite encouraging.

Speaking of the plans to site a community building alongside the pub he said this would be a boon for the community.

He said: “Everyone will be over the moon with that because we are concerned that there is not enough there for the community so it would be a great thing.”

The pub owner was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Fate of long-running Marston pub saga set to be decided at planning meeting

1 Mar 2017 / William Walker

THE fate of a long-derelict pub may finally be decided as proposals are set to go before a planning committee meeting next week.

The Jack Russell Pub, Salford Road, Marston, has been at the centre of a long-running saga since it was sold by brewery Greene King in October 2015.

The owner went on to submit an application, which was later withdrawn, to demolish the building and transform it into 16 flats together with 19 car parking spaces.

The application faced a barrage of local concern with residents and councillors blasting the plans as a 'carbuncle' at the time.

A second application for the site then came forward in December for the three-storey block of flats, an application which will now be determined by Oxford City Council on March 8, according to planning officers.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Marston councillor Mick Haines and long-running campaigner to keep the pub going as a community asset, said that the loss of another community space for the area was ‘scandalous.’

He said: “I am pretty confident that it will be voted down at the planning meeting. There have been a few alterations with the new planning application but I can’t see an awful lot different, it is still three storeys high.

"It’s a carbuncle as I said before.

“It is the height that’s the main problem and also the parking situation in that area.

“Everyone that we have spoken to are all against it, they are all opposed to it. They want something for the community there.

“I would love to see it opened up as a pub again or something totally different, something for the community.”

In November the pub was gutted in a suspected arson attack.

Two months later the owner of Templar's Bar and Kitchen, Barns Road, Cowley, Ronnie Pollitt, said that he wanted to buy the pub in a bid to restore it to its former glory.

At the time he said that although the plan was at an early stage it would depend on dialogue with the owner.

While those plans are yet to resurface since the announcement the ultimate fate of the pub is now expected to be decided at the meeting next week.

The planning committee meeting will be held on Wednesday March 8 at Oxford City Council's Town Hall, as well as a number of other planning applications up for decision.

The meeting is free to attend and open to the public and the agenda is expected to be published today.

Petition launched to save derelict Marston pub

Mick Haines with a previous petition to save the Somerset House pub, in October 2016.

10 Feb 2017 / William Walker

A FRESH petition urging action to help the plight of a long-derelict Marston pub has been launched.

The Somerset House Pub, New Marston, closed its doors in 2014 and has stood derelict ever since.

After a raft of closures in the area it could be the last chance for a pub in the area and a group of residents are campaigning to restore it to its former glory.

Launching the new petition this week Marston resident Susannah Wilson called the pub a ‘one of a kind’ and urged people to back her campaign.

She said: “Marston has already lost The Plasterers Arms, The Jack Russell, The Friar, The Cavalier, The Three Horseshoes, The Bricklayers Arms and the White Hart, which have all been converted to other uses by property developers.

“We urgently need community spaces as well as housing, and pubs are an important and irreplaceable part of our heritage.

“If the Somerset is lost there will be no pubs in New Marston, an area of some 4,000 residents.

“Marston is in real need of public spaces for eating, drinking and meeting. Many of us know and love the Somerset, and remember it as a thriving pub.

“We have come together to lobby local government to recognise the importance of preserving our last pub and to campaign to see it re-opened for community use.”

The petition, since it was launched on Tuesday, has already gained 255 signatures and will be delivered to Oxford City Council.

The Somerset House is a privately owned and people want to work with authorities, and the owners in bring int back to life.

Marston councillor Mick Haines, who himself launched a petition last summer, has also lent his support to the campaign and said the area was in desperate need of a community asset such as a pub.

He said: “The pub is just a derelict and the people want it to go back to a pub obviously but whether or not the owner wants that I don’t know.

"It’s all up in the air at the moment. We are having a meeting with the owner on March 1 but we don’t know what he wants to do yet. We are in the dark.

“It’s very important for the community to get something back, there are so few other pubs.

“We can’t afford to lose it, we need a pub for our area and certainly something for the community.”

It wasn’t all positive for supporters of the petition, however, and one resident writing on the online petition site, as 'Kelly H', said re-opening it as a pub would be pointless.

She said: “If the people of Marston actually used the places they’ve been so desperate to save they wouldn’t have all closed.

“A pub in New Marston is desperately needed but no point in someone taking it on and then losing a lot of money.”

Two war memorials protected for future generations with Grade-II listing

31 Jan 2017 / William Walker

TWO war memorials, erected to honour the ultimate sacrifice by the relatives of many Marston families, have been immortalised by becoming listed.

Historic England has been campaigning since 2014 to make all WWI war memorials across England Grade-II listed structures.

The status ensures that buildings are considered 'of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them'.

Last week two war memorials at Marston, one at St Nicholas's Church, Old Marston, and another at the junction of William Street and John Garne Way with Marston Road, were both granted the Grade-II listed building status, protecting them for future generations.   

Old Marston parish councillor and vice chairman of the council Duncan Hatfield welcomed the news and hailed it as an important way of safeguarding a key part of the area's history.

He said: "Old Marston has a long history and I think it helps us remember the people that laid down their lives for us.

"The people on the war memorial, some of their families have been here for generations. It is about remembering them.

"It is good to remember that Old Marston played its part and I think its good to remember that piece of history.

"As a member of the community and a parish councillor I am sure others would agree that future generations need to remember the sacrifices made for them. That is why we have Remembrance Sunday.

"The younger generations they may not even be aware that they have lost their relatives without memorials like that."

The memorials are inscribed with 38 names from both the first and second world wars, according to the Imperial War Museum.

Marston Councillor Mick Haines also welcomed the news and said he was thrilled that it had now been included as a listed monument.

Mr Haines said: "I am very pleased with it, it is a really good thing to have them listed.

"It makes sure that they are there for future generations. It is saving it for future generations and that is a really important thing for the area."

He added that he had a special attachment to the New Marston memorial because he ensured that the community bench was installed through his community budget.

He said: "It was lovely, we had a full service for it and 100 people came to it. It was really nice and the vicar of St Michael's did a blessing as well.

"It is nice to see it immortalised because we have to protect these monuments. I am really pleased with it."

The Historic England project is funded by the department for culture, media and sport and aims to list 2,500 similar memorials by 2019.

Plan submitted to demolish Jack Russell pub in Marston to make way for housing

 9 Jan 2017 / William Walker

PLANS to transform a long-derelict Marston pub into housing have risen from the ashes after it was gutted two months ago in an arson attack.

The Jack Russell Pub was set ablaze on November 12 in what police are treating as arson.

No suspects have been identified or any arrests made, and the site owners have now submitted another application to demolish the former pub and create 16 flats on a three-storey building, together with 19 car parking spaces.

It comes after previous plans for the development, which sparked a backlash from residents and councillors, were withdrawn.

Marston councillor Mick Haines said he is against the latest proposal, and blasted the plans as a 'carbuncle'.

He said: "I am opposing it. It is an eyesore, as I said before its a carbuncle.

"I am going to get people that are already against it to write in and oppose it. Because we really want it for the community.

"We are losing an asset and the worry is with the flooding and sewage situation because more flats will put a strain on the system."

Residents, meanwhile, have so far reacted largely positively to the latest plans.

Layla Blue, of Old Marston Road said: "Although sad to see yet another community asset, public house closure, I fully support this application as we are all well aware of the need of housing in Oxford.

"This is a prime location with ease of access to the town centre and the hospitals and provides substantial housing which is much needed in this area too.

"The building has been derelict for over two years and the delay in the planning process only generates more bad press and negativity.

"As much as the delays will be frustrating for the owner, as local residents, we are also tired of seeing the area and building in dire state."

Liaqat Ali of Inott Furze, Lye Valley, said: "A great use of a underused site. A pub that was no longer a viable business.

"This development will bring much needed housing and provided 50 per cent social housing to the area.

"Yes we will lose a pub, a pub that was not working as a business. It was no longer a business hence the brewery sold it.

"A great idea for a private developer to come forward a wonderful new building with as mentioned provide much needed affordable housing.

"Why has it taken so long ? We need more developments like so in Oxford. Which is in dire need of housing it has been stressed in main stream media up and down the country."

The Jack Russell Pub, in Salford Road, has stood derelict since it was sold by brewery Greene King in October 2015.


Make a free website with Yola