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Talking Heads pub is staying put
“I’M NOT going anywhere.”
That’s the message from the landlord of a Southampton pub and music venue after plans to turn it into student flats were rejected.
The application for the Talking Heads site were only put forward as a “fall-back” option if the pub failed, but Guy Benfield insists that regardless of the proposals there are no plans to close the popular watering hole.
The pub in Portswood Road has become one of the best-loved venues in the city over the past 20 years, and has hosted the likes of The Damned, The Script, The New York Dolls and Southampton’s own Band of Skulls, pictured.
Owners Bajar Estates Ltd bought it nine years ago, but it had faced a bleak future when previous proprietor Mark Hughes ceased trading last January.
However, the future of Talking Heads was saved in February, when current leaseholder Guy Benfield and business partner Martin White took over, signing a ten-year lease with the landlord.
As revealed in the Daily Echo, Bajar Estates handed in a planning application to Southampton City Council to convert the pub building into 18 student flats.
The plans featured proposals to build a part two-storey and part single-storey extension and a parking drop-off point to the rear.
The proposals went before the city council’s planning panel on Tuesday, where agent Rob Wiles told the councillors: “The application for the conversion comes forward as a fall-back just in case.”
But he was at pains to stress that there are currently no plans to close the pub and convert it into flats, after a council report on the application said the pub had “proven unviable and the current landlord has served notice on the owner.”
A council officer said the information had come as part of the planning application.
In the end the planning panel rejected the plans, saying it would be the loss of a community facility and that the developer had failed to secure planning obligations.
Mr Benfield said: “I am going nowhere. The Talking Heads is staying open and the error in the report was a mistake, it should not have happened.
“I get on very well with the landlords – we work very well together.
“If at some point I have had enough of running Talking Heads or we can’t make it viable, then the landlords would have had a fall-back option to turn it into flats.”
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