Country pub near Preston could be bulldozed for a service station

An historic country pub could be flattened to make way for a service area for the £200m Preston Western Distributor Road.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 4:24 pm

Euro Garages, run by wealthy Lancashire-based brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, have applied for planning permission to build a petrol station, store and drive-thru coffee shop on the site of the Saddle Inn at Lea.

The motoring pit stop will serve drivers using the new road, linking a new junction on the M55 with Blackpool Road in Lea, which is due to open next year.

The Saddle, once a thriving rural watering hole, has been in decline for several years. It has had 10 tenants in the past decade and has also been closed on three separate occasions during that time.

The Saddle Inn has been struggling for a decade say Thwaites.

Owners Daniel Thwaites say the old pub in Sidgreaves Lane, which has been serving pints for at least 170 years, is no longer a profitable business, especially now a major part of its beer garden and outdoor eating area has been swallowed up by the new road.

"Reasonable efforts have been made to trade the Saddle Inn profitably. However due to a number of factors, this has not proved to be a viable business," says the brewery.

The planning application, lodged with the city council this week, says the site is ideal for a service area for traffic using the PWDR as well as residents of thousands of new homes being built in the north-west part of Preston.

Euro Garages plan to knock the pub down, even though it is classed as a non-designated heritage asset locally. The building, which has been extended and altered several times, is said to date back to at least 1786 and could originally have been a farmhouse.

The Saddle's large beer garden and play area has been its main attraction, but most of it will be swallowed up by the new road.

In a letter to the council Thwaites say that there has been a "significant decline" in beer sales in recent years suggesting the pub "has become less appealing and less used by the local community."

"One of the unique points of difference at this property has been the large beer garden which has been popular with families dining out. A large section of this has been compulsory acquired by Lancashire County Council to facilitate the construction of the Preston Western Distributor Road.

"The loss of this land will have a significantly detrimental effect on trade and profitability of the business going forward.

"The level of trade experienced at the Saddle in recent times is not as a consequence of a lack of effort or initiative shown by the operators. We have seen successive tenants try to develop a sustainable business, but in recent times all have struggled.

The Saddle as it was before Thwaites bought it in in 1958.

"The trade history implies the Saddle had not been supported by the local community to such an extent to result in a viable business."