Could it be peace at last as ex-Wigan pub becomes flats?

The New Fleece Hotel
The New Fleece Hotel

A former pub, which has been a magnet for serious anti-social behaviour for years, is to be turned into housing.

Wigan Council planners have given the green light to create 11 apartments out of The New Fleece Hotel in the middle of Ashton.

The decision follows several difficult years for the Warrington Road venue, with the local authority revoking its licence last year when neighbours complained about late-night noise and vandalism.

Police uncovered a shocking litany of major management failures when asked to look into the matter.

But closing the boozer down merely caused more problems, with traders reporting youths running amok in the abandoned building and turning that part of Ashton into a no-go zone.

It is now hoped that all that will all be history after the new owner submitted the application to create residential properties there. Half a dozen letters backing the scheme were also sent to the local authority.

Passing the application, authority planners acknowledged the importance of finding a use for such a large and historic town centre site.

The report concluded: “The Fleece Hotel is an important building which occupies a prominent position within the town centre and the conservation area. Currently the building is vacant and could deteriorate unless action is taken to bring it back into use.

“Given the need to secure the re-use and renovation of this building, the sustainable location within the town centre and the acceptable level of amenity the proposal will offer for prospective residents, the proposal is acceptable and should be recommended for approval.”

The owner plans to put five apartments on the ground floor and remove part of the building linking the main pub to the stable block at the back in order to provide a ginnel. Minor cosmetic alterations will be made to the former watering hole, with new doorways and windows installed and the roof being slightly raised.

To ensure the building continues to abide by the town hall’s heritage policies a number of conditions concerning the construction project have been imposed.

Greater Manchester Ecology Unit has asked for special bricks allowing swifts to nest in the building to be used as it is a suitable nesting site and the number of birds visiting the UK each summer has fallen concerningly. The developer must also provide funds to maintain open space and provide children’s play equipment in the area.

The delegated decision allowing work lasts until March 2021.