Bedsit plans for former Preston alehouse with tragic past

A former Preston pub with a tragic past has been granted permission to convert its upstairs into flats.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 8:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 8:44 am
The Birley Arms was a pub for 155 years before it became offices and now a steak restaurant.
The Birley Arms was a pub for 155 years before it became offices and now a steak restaurant.

Owners of the Birley Arms on New Hall Lane, now trading as a steak restaurant, want to create four bedsits on its first and second floors.

It was in the upstairs of the building where the badly burned body of the landlord's 12-year-old daughter was found following a fire which engulfed the pub in November 1885.

Four other occupants were seriously injured trying to escape the inferno, including the dead girl's sister and brother. A piano player who had been staying there was crippled when he jumped from the blazing building.

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Owners want to convert the upper two floors into bedsits.

And the pub was at the centre of another fatal incident almost 40 years later when a coach party from the Birley Arms crashed on a day trip to Cumbria, killing one passenger and injuring 12 others, including the landlord and his wife.

The alehouse, which dates back to the 1850s, closed as a pub in 2007 and became a solicitor's office until 2014 when it reverted back to the hospitality trade as a restaurant called the Steak House Saloon.

The first floor is currently an office and kitchen, while the second floor is used for storage. The owners want to convert them into a living room and kitchen and four separate bedsits with en suite bathrooms.

The planning application says the owners want to join in the continuing regeneration of New Hall Lane by providing accommodation, with the ground floor continuing as a restaurant.

A report to the planning committee says the upstairs of the property has deteriorated and "will continue to fall into a state of disrepair and suffer vandalism, as well as being a target for squatters" if the conversion work does not get the go-ahead.

"Under the City Deal New Hall Lane is to be regenerated with improvements such as reducing the width of the roadway, thereby creating wider landscaped pathways and new street furniture."

Recommending the plans for approval, a planning officer said: "The noise generation from the HMO (house in multiple occupation) would be unlikely to lead to such a level that would warrant a refusal.

"The proposals would not have an unacceptable impact on neighbouring or visual amenity."