Leighton pub set to become flats due to ‘ongoing trading losses’

The Crown before the fire
The Crown before the fire

An historic Leighton Buzzard pub which was rebuilt in the 1990s after a serious fire is being lined up for conversion into flats due to its ongoing trading losses.

Owner David Maslen has applied to Central Beds Council for planning permission to change the use of the North Street premises to allow four two-bedroom flats.

The Crown... photo: Google Street View

The Crown... photo: Google Street View

The pub was rebuilt and refurbished in 1998 following a fire in 1991 which gutted the building. But Mr Maslen says the business is no longer sustainable.

A planning statement in support of his move, states: “Over a number of preceding years large national businesses providing cheap food and drink have established ‘pub-style’ outlets within Leighton Buzzard town centre.

“As a result, customers of The Crown, a significant part of whom have historically constituted members of the younger generation, tend particularly at weekends to gravitate to these town centre establishments rather than the peripheral outlets.

“This trend has become more and more significant over recent years and as a result the current owner (the applicant) considers that the business is no longer financially viable and accordingly has no alternative but to seek an alternative use for this asset to avoid ongoing trading losses.”

A spokesman for Leighton Buzzard Historical and Archaeological Society said: “The Crown was first licensed in 1857, although there had been a beer shop called the Crown tavern as early as 1830.

“In a deed of that year it was described as ‘a cottage or dwelling house in the North End with a gateway and loft over, a yard, garden and a warehouse’. There were also two adjoining cottages.

“It joined at least six other pubs around North Square of which the Wheatsheaf is the only one remaining today. It remained a popular pub throughout the 20th century until a disastrous fire in 1991 which gutted the building.

“The remains were demolished in February 1995 and the present pub constructed and reopened.”

What do you think about the pub’s potential closure and conversion? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk