Golden future in store for Fleece?

The New Fleece Hotel, in Ashton, could be transformed into 11 apartments
The New Fleece Hotel, in Ashton, could be transformed into 11 apartments
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A landmark pub - which was closed after noise nuisance complaints - could be about to become town centre apartments.

Licensing chiefs forced the closure of The New Fleece, in Ashton, late last year, amid complaints over live rock bands performing until 4am.

Police had requested that time be called on the musical showcases, which were occurring up to three times a week.]

And councillors ruled that as the venue was considered to be close to housing, it had to be shut.

For the past 11 months the premises, at the junction of Warrington Road and Heath Road, which was sold before they were due to go up for auction in February, have lain empty.

But now a Surrey-based businessman, Jonathan Esparon, is behind proposals, submitted to Wigan Council, to transform the former hotel into 11 apartments, around a central courtyard.

Architects have drawn up blueprints which would install a link between the main building and an old stable block, which has previously housed a newsagents and office licence.

Planning agent Bill Schafer said: “The layout has been arranged to minimise disruption of the important historic fabric.

“The principal elevations to Warrington Road and Heath Road remain unchanged, apart from three new rooflights, inserted into the Warrington Road elevation.”

Several smaller single-storey extensions, constructed out of blockwork, would be pulled down if the scheme is eventually granted planning permission.

Mr Schafer added: “The apartments are arranged with private, individual entrances as far as possible, accessed off the courtyard, which will be paved and landscaped.

“It will be protected with metal railings and gates for privacy, and to prevent a pedestrian thoroughfare being made through the development.”

One of the oldest hostelries n the area and known formerly as the Fleece Inn, there has probably been a pub on the site since at least the 1740s. The building once had its own butchers and slaughterhouse attached.

Earlier this year a number of business owners in the centre of Ashton had complained that the empty hostelry was attracting anti-social elements.

Gangs of up to 30 trespassers were said to have invaded the site, amid fears of drug-dealing and vandalism.

Police and council officials pledged to tackle the issue, as concerns were voiced that a number of internal fixtures and fittings had been damaged by the intruders.

The move is one of a number of prospective changes to night life in Ashton, with a licensing application recently made to resurrect the fortunes of the former Green Cardamon restaurant, off Wigan Road. Work is still also awaited on the projec t to reopen the former Cross Keys on Bolton Road.