Rob Bann and Matt Sharp, directors of Mellor Homes in Marple, both drank in the Jodrell Arms in their younger days and were as dismayed as many local residents to see it shut 13 years ago and fall into disrepair and become a target of vandalism.
Matt said: “It’s a shame the building in the heart of the town has stood empty for such a long time and we can’t wait for it to be sympathetically refurbished and put back in to use.
“Every time we’ve been there recently a passer-by has grabbed us to ask what’s happening. I think people are desperate to get it back open and looking good. The most rewarding thing of all will be to see people back in there enjoying it.”
The previous owner secured planning permission last year to restore the centuries-old building as a bar and holiday accommodation, but had no immediate plans to begin the project so Rob and Matt made an offer that was too good to refuse.
Matt said: “Being local we have a strong affection for Whaley Bridge and the people who live here, and because of this we have been building high quality housing in the town for the past five years.
“The town is missing that central hub where people can meet family and friends and socialise and we hope that we can find a suitable partner to take on the pub and restaurant to make this happen. We think that holiday apartments will also bring in valuable tourism to the area.”
He added: “The position is perfect – next to the station and in the centre of town – so I think it can do good business with a multitude of uses all day. It’s a really nice building and should never be left empty.”
The pair have begun advertising for a tenant to take on the pub, but plan to run the holiday apartments themselves. The latter part of the project is likely to be completed first but all being well the pub should be reopened by the end of next year.
Matt said: “We’ve got a few planning issues to sort out. It’s a listed building which comes with certain conditions, but hopefully building work can begin soon after Christmas.
“There are a lot of things to replace but we have to work with the main fabric of the building so it will be a sympathetic restoration. It’s a real focal point for the down, next to the Cenotaph and where the Christmas tree goes up, so we’re keen to get the fencing down soon and make it look decent again.”
He added: “We hope that local people can bear with us and be patient during the refurbishment as large projects like this in a town centre are not without their challenges and difficulties.”