Rescue the Fox & Hounds Inn

A Community Campaign Website created, maintained and funded by Select Systems

Planning Application for conversion to two houses now submitted

Many of you will have enjoyed a lazy lunch or pleasant drink at the 16th Century Fox and Hounds Inn at Great Wolford. The pub has been immensely popular and successful in the past but was bought in May 2015 by Steven Allely and Jackie Harding The village supported them at first but soon found that their hospitality was… well, the business didn’t thrive.

They closed the pub less than a year after opening it citing ‘local opposition’ and have been living in it as a private house ever since. They’ve now submitted a planning application to turn the F&H into two houses. We’re determined that we should not lose our Pub.

We hope you’ll support this lovely old pub by submitting an objection to the application on the Stratford District Council planning site. It would only take a few minutes and everyone who loves the Fox and Hounds would be tremendously grateful.

Key points:

  • A pub needs a proper, full-time landlord to thrive. The current owners ran the pub on a part-time basis (they work in a cafe in Bourton on the Water) and it was frequently closed. Despite this they claim that the pub isn’t viable
  • Former owners of the F&H and several landlords of local pubs have confirmed that the F&H is absolutely viable if run by people who are prepared to work hard and love and understand the pub business
  • The F&H is a wonderful Pub that, until recently, was very popular with both locals and visitors
  • It is at the heart of the community and is the only place villagers can meet socially – we have no other pub, a shop or a village hall
  • It has been an Inn for at least two centuries, is Grade II listed and in the Conservation area – it must not be lost

Objections to the planning applications have started rolling in and are appearing on the SDC website. If you’d like to view them for interest or inspiration here’s how to find them. Visit https://apps.stratford.gov.uk/eplanning/AppDetail.aspx?appkey=P8RCSGPMM7000

  • Click on the Associated Documents tab at the top of the screen
  • On the left you’ll see a panel headed APPLICATION
  • Below this there is a COMMENTS heading – click on this
  • You will then see a list of objectors (or supporters!!)
  • Click on one to see the content of the objection
  • If you want to download a copy of the objection hover your mouse over the displayed document and you’ll see a small red ‘Adobe’ icon
  • Click on this icon and then on the grey Download PDF button that appears in the centre of the window

Excerpts from some of the objections to the application posted on Stratford District Council’s website

The current owners only have themselves to blame if they could not make this business work

The current owners only have themselves to blame if they could not make this business work. The opening hours were never the same as stated on their website and when you did manage to catch them open the welcome was far from warm. They never managed to secure a chef and the food offering went from something that people drove out from other villages to enjoy, to something that was served in a basket. Being in the hospitality trade is a tough job but at the crux of running any kind of pub or restaurant is excellent service and the relationship with the customer. The current owners threw the towel in after not even a year’s trading and excelled at neither service or customer relations. My objection is purely based on common sense and nothing to do with who owns the pub. If the current owners were prepared to sell for a sensible price I am sure that somebody else would relish the chance to reinstate the Fox and Hounds to its former glory.

The current owners made the service so poor it could not be tolerated....

The pub was incredibly well supported by the locals until the current owners made the service so poor it could not be tolerated (i.e. waiting over 2 hours for basket fried food) and locals being made to feel unwelcome. The pub is well loved and there would be an immediate return of business should it re-open. It is the heart of the village and many events were held and run from here prior to the current owners. Locals have shown there is call for a local pub by the attendance at their pop up pub events in the nearby village. Despite moving away from the village we would definitely return and use the pub consistently as would many others from both the village and it’s surrounding area. It is a fully viable business when marketed effectively and identifying the type of pub business this historic building needs and respecting it. I fully object to this application and it would tear the heart out of the village and those smaller surrounding villages.

This pub needs to be saved and taken over by owners prepared to invest the energy into it...
I strongly object to this application and feel the current occupants are deliberately trying to sabotage our chances of saving our village pub! When the pub was being run by the current occupants, several times we went to have a drink to find the door locked during peak times. This pub needs to be saved and taken over by owners prepared to invest the energy into it to and integrate into the community, not run it into the ground then claim there was no support making a pub not viable. Please do not allow this application!
Please sign our petition on 38 Degrees. This will be handed to Stratford District Council as part of our protest.
Please object to this planning application. Click on the button below then choose the ‘Comment’ tab in the new window that opens.

Latest News

Village Meeting regarding Pub Planning application

I have received the  following from Lynn Mathias Chair, Great Wolford Parish Council There has been a planning application received (ref 18/01396/FUL) by Stratford District Council to convert the Fox and Hounds Public House into 2 dwellings.  The Parish Council has to...

read more

Planning Application submitted for 2 houses

Two houses to replace our village pub? At the Parish Council Meeting on May 15th, the current owners of the pub, Allely and Harding announced that they had applied for planning permission to convert our Village Pub into two houses. Having turned down an offer to...

read more

Some Background Information

The History

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The Fox and Hounds Inn can be dated back to 1540. The well-built former stable block attests to its prosperity, catering to weary travellers from Oxford and the East of England. For many decades the Inn has a been the vibrant social centre of Great Wolford and the surrounding villages as well as being a ‘Destination Pub’ attracting visitors from the local area and further afield seeking accommodation and good food in a convivial atmosphere.

We’ve been fortunate to have had some wonderful landlords and ladies over the years who have built up the Inn’s reputation and custom. Unfortunately the last owner of the pub Gill Tarbox was forced to close the business  in January 2015 due to ill health and other issues. The F&H was bought for just £325,000 in April 2015. The listed proprietors are Stephen Charles Allely (proprietor of the Waterfront Tearooms in Bourton on the Water), Jacqueline Harding and Beryl Jean Allely. Stephen Allely and Jacqueline Harding were directors of The Fox and Hounds Inn Great Wolford Limited, a company having it’s registered offices at the Pub, though Harding subsequently resigned as a director.

Before the pub was reopened various works were carried out. Sadly, they it was deemed appropriate to destroy the quaint old bar and restaurant interiors with their comfortable seating and cosy atmosphere. The replacement bare wood interior with its tottering stools and digital jukebox was not to everyone’s taste.  It is no longer the bar that has featured so widely in photographs and reviews of the much-loved “Quintessential English Pub”

The Challenge

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At first, despite the changes, the locals were keen to support the new regime at their village pub and went out of their way to use it regularly, encouraging the return  of other regulars who had drifted away during its closure.

However after a couple of months concern began to grow that something wasn’t right. The pub was never seen to be advertised or promoted and little apparent effort was made to make drinkers and diners feel welcome. It was almost as if the owners didn’t want the business to succeed.

As 2016 began, less than six months after being re-opened, the pub was regularly found to be closed without notice. Then it was only open in the evenings and finally it was closed altogether.  The Parish council was asked to apply to Stratford District Council for an Asset of Community Value listing – an ACV. At the Parish Council meeting on September 14th. 2016 the chair reported that, in response to the the ACV application, the owners had informed the Council that the pub was “No longer financially viable” and that they would be applying for change of use. The owners attended the meeting with a Planning Consultant. When asked directly whether the pub would ever re-open Steven Allely responded very quietly “Unlikely”. Stratford DC granted the ACV listing in September 2016

A former Landlady’s View

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It was my privilege to own and ‘care take’ this unique and well-known village Inn in from 2000 – 2003.

I say ‘care take’ because the Fox and Hounds is a very special Inn: it is situated in a beautiful Cotswolds village location and is unique. As soon as one stoops to enter through the ‘coffin’ door of this 17th Century, Grade II-listed building, one is transported back in time. It has a rich history, exudes candle-lit warmth and its walls ‘ooze’ atmosphere. Its age meant, of course, that there were 21st-century challenges in running this Inn (with rooms) commercially and successfully.

Until recently, The Fox and Hounds had an uninterrupted fine reputation in the area. (I have known it for over 30 years and many other locals for even longer). I felt I could never ‘possess’ such a unique historic hostelry – but could only, fleetingly in its history, look after it and then hand over the mantle to ensure the Inn remained the hub of the surrounding village communities for many years to come.

Wendy Veale

In her full article Wendy makes some irrefutable points about the viability of the Fox and Hounds and provides real figures to support them Click Here to read