Villagers who were concerned their local pub was 'rotting away' are celebrating after plans were finally revealed to bring it back to life.

The Cock Inn on the village green at Combe was bought by Tony Gallagher's pub group Lionhearth in 2022.

But residents were left in the dark about its future after the building stayed empty and the doors remained closed. 

A second planning application has now been lodged after earlier plans were withdrawn due to concerns raised by West Oxfordshire District Council.

Witney Gazette: Cock Inn at Combe

The council was generally supportive of the redevelopment of the Grade II-listed building, however, there were concerns over the detailed design.

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The extension now proposed is "a much simpler and lighter weight with a contemporary design which retains the understanding and legibility of the older L plan form of the historic part of the building" states a design and access statement.

As well as the replacement extension proposals include a new covered seating area at the back, and repairing and replacing the roof, stone chimneys, windows and doors.

There will be various internal alterations and the car park will be resurfaced.

The pub was listed as an asset of community value in 2019.

A planning statement states: "It is important to allow these buildings to evolve and adapt so they can continue to serve an important function in the community as a meeting place."

The application has drawn several support comments.

Neighbour John Hunt said: "Combe has a great village community. The pub has been run down for so many years and it's great to see a company keen to make improvements on a tired building.

"Combe has a great school and now needs a great pub to keep the village alive."

Witney Gazette:

Another villager Don Redding said the reason there has not been an attempt at community buyout was partly because the village has already bought the former Methodist Chapel on Park Road to act as a community hub.

He added that "there is an understanding that the re-opened inn will have to focus on dining to be viable" but he hoped the reopened pub would not focus solely on food.

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He wrote there is "a hope that the owners will live up to the planning application's rhetoric of maintaining an asset of community value by ensuring that other needs are catered for.

"This would include making clear that drinkers are welcome.

"A comparator might be the Killingworth Castle in Wootton, where drinkers are able to sit at unreserved tables in the open bar/restaurant area."

He suggested councillors ask Lionhearth about their intentions for allowing village societies to meet at the pub "on quieter midweek nights", adding "and to encourage them to communicate and engage with villagers as their plans progress, as there has been little contact up to this point".