Landmark pub overlooking River Adur nearing 200th anniversary could be lost for good

A Southwick pub is set to be turned into a home as the owners say it is no longer a viable business.

Schooner Inn Southwick
Schooner Inn Southwick

The Schooner, at 146 Albion Street, lies along the A259 and overlooks the Lady Bee Marina and Shoreham Harbour. It is a familiar sight when driving out of Brighton and Hove.

The pub is 200 years old next year but the owners, who currently live on the first floor, are seeking permission for a change of use to transform it into a family home.

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The applicant has owned the pub since 2014 but says it is no longer a viable business.

In a planning statement, they said: “Despite investing large sums of money, the public house has struggled to make a profit and in fact has made substantial losses which would have been worse had the applicants taken anything

other than a basic income from the business.”

It goes on to say that its location next to the A259 and lack of parking makes the pub ‘undesirable for the community of Southwick and Portslade’.

The Schooner has been closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but even before this the owners say they struggled to make a profit because of ‘limited support by the community’.

Plans show no changes to the outside of the building but the inside is set to include a gym, basement storage, lounge, TV room, and a main living area including four bedrooms.

Initially there was an objection to the plans because they did ‘not comply with national and local planning policies’.

This was namely because claims the pub was in an ‘undesirable’ location were disputed and the Adur local plan aims to prevent the ‘loss of community facilities’.

However, this objection has now been removed after the owners submitted details of alternative venues nearby.

Planning officers have now recommended the plans be approved at a meeting on Monday (December 6).

Shoreham Port Authority objected to the plans due to potential disturbance to the occupants and 11 members of the public also objected.

The objections say the pub is of ‘historic importance’ and ‘part of Southwick’s heritage’.

The Southwick Society has also object to the plans. It said: “Change of use would result in the loss of an important local community facility, public house and meeting place.”

The society also claims the venue was ‘not sufficiently marketed’ but the current owners explained they were the eighth landlord in 12 years and the pub was last put on the market in 2013.

The owners said £25,000 was spent on marketing the pub in 2018.

One of those who would be sad to see the pub go is Shoreham resident Trevor Wickson who says he has been a Schooner customer for more than 50 years.

“I was flabbergasted when I picked this news up a few weeks ago,” he said.

“It’s very personal to me and it is an amazing pub.

“At night you could sit by the window and there were all these spangled lights and it was absolutely magical.

“When these old pubs are turned into houses, they just look like old soldiers with their eyes put out and it’s going to be like that for the next 200 years.”

Mr Wickson says he is worried that approving the plans could ‘set a terrible precedent’ for turning pubs into housing.

“The council must have the courage to fully defend its own conservation policies,” he said.

Planning officers agreed that closing the pub ‘would appear to have a greater impact than others that have been lost in the town in the past’ but said a ‘balanced case’ had been put forward for a change of use.

More details can be found at the Adur planning portal using reference: AWDM/1327/21.