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Crisis meeting called in battle for The Harrier pub in Hamble
“IT is destroying the heart of the community.”
That is the message from regulars battling plans to bulldoze a Hampshire pub and turn it in to retirement homes.
Developers McCarthy and Stone say they have entered into an agreement with the owners of The Harrier inn, in Hamble, to provide a “sensitive solution” for the future of the site.
The firm says the pub business is no longer sustainable after suffering declining trade in the last few years combined with escalating costs and the need for a major refurbishment.
Plans are now being drawn up to turn the site into retirement apartments with landscaping and car parking, before a planning application is submitted.
But campaigners say this will rob the community of one of its last traditional pubs.
The pub’s head chef Tracy Vann has started the ‘Save The Harrier’ campaign and already has around 400 signatures for a petition to keep it.
Now she has organised a meeting today for residents to find out more.
“It’s a local community pub where everybody gets together and it’s a real family pub,” she said.
“Everybody’s really upset about it.
“It’s destroying the heart of the community.”
She added that the pub, in Hamble Lane, is used by many pensioners who come in regularly for lunch and would not be able to walk to other pubs.
Tracy denied claims trade was in decline, saying it was a popular pub and that business was busier now than it had been in the three years she had worked there.
She added that staff, including the manager Andy Loizou, only became aware of the plans when they were contacted by the Daily Echo.
Now the manager, three full-time staff, part-time weekend staff and herself all fear for their jobs.
McCarthy and Stone have been invited to the meeting along with Pat O’Neill from the Southern Hampshire Campaign for Real Ale to the meeting.
The firm’s regional managing director Shane Paull said the development would represent an investment of around £5m into the local economy and warned that the site could become a convenience store if the plan was not approved.
He said it would be a high quality design, complement the character of the surrounding area and deliver much-needed housing for people in later life.
A spokeswoman for Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub freehold, said: “As part of our ongoing business, we do from time to time identify a pub which is unable to deliver an appropriate level of sustainable income.
“After careful consideration, the decision was taken to sell The Harrier.
“The publican has been fully briefed of these plans and given notice of the sale in accordance with the terms of his agreement.”
The meeting is at the pub at 6.30pm today and anyone is welcome to attend.
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