Plans for new pubs draw mixed responses

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News that a major company plans to invest more than £2m into creating two town centre pubs has been greeted by mixed reactions.

The Mercury revealed last week that JD Wetherspoon will take over the Mercury office in Sheep Market, Stamford, and the former Royal British Legion building in High Street, Oakham.

The chain, which has more than 800 pubs, said it planned to invest £1m into each venture.

Planning applications have yet to be submitted but already the plans have received a mixed reaction.

On Friday, an online petition was set up against the plans for Stamford, stating “We don’t need or want a Wetherspoons in our town” and as of yesterday, the petition had 169 signatures.

On Twitter, @Lizzie_B_ said: “Maybe would suit Oakham, but not Stamford.”

@ElleStationery described the Stamford plan as “bad news” and @martinpilarski added: “Why on earth does Stamford need a Wetherspoon?”

But president of Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce Tim Lee said people should wait for the planning application to be submitted.

He said: “In principle we don’t object to any business, particularly when they are moving into what would be an unoccupied unit.

“Wetherspoon might be a national chain but that is not a reason to object and in fact, we welcome competition.”

The news of the Royal British Legion building in Oakham, which has been closed since 2008, being transformed was welcomed by Oakham Town Partnership chairman Alf Dewis, who is also mayor.

He said: “My concern with the British Legion building is that it has looked derelict for some time and I would look forward to any developer that can come forward and take on the building.”

And Tony Davis, who owns The Grainstore Brewery in Station Approach, Oakham, said: “It doesn’t faze me at all. We have supplied Wetherspoons for years and they are good customers.

“It just means the pubs on that side of town will have to set their stall out because there will be a concentration of pubs in that area. It will also be nice to brighten the town up.”

The building was used by the Oakham branch of the legion for 60 years. It closed after plans by a national management group to take it over fell through.

The Mercury and the archive trust are looking for alternative premises in Stamford. Its lease expires in May.