REGULARS at a historic pub are ramping up their campaign to stop it being turned into an American-style smokehouse.
The locals at The Unicorn, on Adlington Road in Wilmslow, have drawn up a petition with more than 700 signatures against the plan to convert the 200 year old inn into a Hickory’s Smokehouse. Hickory’s - which has restaurants in Chester, West Kirby and Rhos-on-Sea - submitted a planning application to convert the restaurant and extend the building.
Cheshire East council agreed to extend the deadline for comments on the planning application after requests by the campaigners.
They want to protect the heritage of the building which was built around 1804. It was listed as a pub in Pigots directory - which was a record of various businesses and organisations - as early as 1828.
The campaign group has listed the building in Cheshire Archaeology Planning Advisory Services Historic Environment Record in a bid to protect it. They are also going for a listing with English Heritage in and with Cheshire East council as an Asset of Community value.
Steve Cummings, 44, of Tudor Green, is leading the campaign with fellow punter Brian Geddes, 80.
Steve, who is a pilot and married to Samantha, said: “We don’t want an American-style diner in place of our 200 year old traditional English country pub and we intend to fight the planning application as hard as possible.
“The pub sits at the very heart of the community and the level of support for our campaign has been astonishing.”
Hickory’s would serve food inspired by the American south cooked using smokers imported from Memphis, Tennessee and there would be TV screens showing sports.
The company directors, who are all from Cheshire, say the heritage of the building will remain and there will still be a large area for drinkers.
Gary Carter, one of Hickory’s directors, said: “I’m from Wilmslow and still have family in the area so know how important it is that the pub remains a hub for the community. We want to maintain the integrity of the original building.”
The pub is run by Chef and Brewer, part of Spirit Group which would lease the building to Hickory’s.
The proposal comes after Simon Kalton, from Alderley Edge, drew up plans to take over the pub from Spirit Group and refurbish it. Simon took over The Ship Inn at Styal from Spirit Group last year and says he would keep the traditional feel at The Unicorn.
A spokesperson for Spirit Pub Company said: “We are currently investigating a number of potential business opportunities for the Unicorn, as we are in the very early stages it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time. We would like to reassure all guests that, until further notice, it is business as usual at the pub.”
Go to facebook.com/Savetheunicorn to see more on the campaign.