Blaze-hit pub un­likely to re-open be­fore next year

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Elwick Place Development - By Ai­dan Bar­low

Plans to re­store a his­toric pub which was badly dam­aged by fire have been sub­mit­ted to the coun­cil, but the land­lord says work is still months away.

The Hooden on the Hill in Sil­ver Hill Road, Willes­bor­ough Lees, has been closed since the blaze at the end of Novem­ber last year.

The pub which dates back to the 17th cen­tury. It had for­merly been the Rose Inn and is a Grade II listed build­ing.

Flames spread from the back of the build­ing and caused dam­age to the wooden tim­ber frames, while the build­ing suf­fered fur­ther dam­age from wa­ter­log­ging as fire­man bat­tled to save it.

Now seven months later, De­sign ID has put for­ward plans on be­half of the build­ing owner Punch Tav­erns, with plans to re­store the pub.

But land­lord Howard Lapish says that while the ten­der for the con­tract to re­build was due in last week, work could still take un­til Jan­uary to com­plete.

Mr Lapish said: “The tar­get I have been given is Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary, I don’t think it will be Land­lord Howard Lapish in the bar show­ing some of the dam­age af­ter the fire at the Hooden on the Hill - in­set this side of Christ­mas. I do want to make changes in­ter­nally and with things like the menus and lay­out, but as far as I know it will go back like for like.

“I’m sure I will be able to make a few tweaks.

“We have to get a new team of staff in as ev­ery­one has gone on to find new jobs.”

Punch Tav­erns is in talks to be taken over by Dutch firm Heineken, and Mr Lapish be­lieves the deal could have an im­pact on what changes he can make at the pub when it re­opens.

He added that while it was dis­ap­point­ing to lose rev­enue from Christ­mas book­ings, he will be able to go back into the pub in the new year to give it a fresh start.

Two res­i­dents have com­plained to the coun­cil that they have not been con­sulted about the pro­posed restora­tion, and have called for the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion to be re­sub­mit­ted.

To view the plans on­line, visit the plan­ning sec­tion at www.ash­ and search for ref­er­ence 17/00903/AS.

Pic­tures: Paul Amos FM4599964/Louise Ken­nett

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