THE FUTURE of one of Southampton’s most historic pubs has been secured.

The Bitterne Park Hotel is celebrating after the appointment of new long-term owners who have big plans to give it a new look and restore its hotel status.

But that is not all – the watering hole has also been named as a community asset by council bosses, giving locals the chance to take control should its future ever be in doubt again.

It is the second listed community asset in the city after The Bittern pub in Thornhill Park Road became one last year.

It has been a rocky few months for the pub, with its future cast into doubt when it closed in January following the departure of landlord Ian Houston.

Another owner was found in February but within days they had pulled out.

Since then the Cobden Avenue establishment has been able to steady its ship thanks to Sharmene Warner, former landlord of the Castle pub, in Midanbury, who took the reigns as an interim manager.

But now Enterprise Inns have new long-term lease holders at the helm, with Raymond Raynor and Gina Coulson taking position behind the bar.

The brother and sister duo are delighted to have taken on the lease.

Raymond said: “We are really happy that it is a community asset and we hope that the community will get behind the pub.”

The pair are hoping that the pub will have an extensive refurbishment in the coming months and will also run as a hotel with seven rooms in the future.

As the pub is now a community asset, it means the community in Bitterne Park could bid on and buy the property, should Enterprise Inns ever decide to sell it in the future.

Conservative councillor for Bitterne Park, Peter Baillie believes it will be a great boost for the area.

He said: “I am glad that it is a community asset, because Bitterne Park needs a pub, hopefully that will mean it will continue.

“People realised that it is a difficult environment for pubs and when you lose a pub it is difficult to get it back.”