News from Lockleaze councillor Estella Tincknell - September 2019
As I sit in the sun writing on the first day of autumn I am eagerly anticipating the day the Mayor and his cabinet will approve the council’s compulsory purchase of the Gainsborough pub.
The pub has lain abandoned and derelict on the square for many years and is an eyesore, a waste of land and, since this summer’s fire, a potential danger. That fire required the efforts of many fire fighters to tackle the blaze and its ferocity caused a great deal of alarm. Now finally action is taking place.
We have been campaigning and lobbying for the pub site to be brought back into use for years and are aware of how much local residents want action. The situation has been especially frustrating since Gainsborough Square’s redevelopment and the building of the Hub and the new flats some six years ago, both of which have helped to transform an important area of public space for the better. Gainsborough Square is at the heart of this part of Lockleaze. It really is not good enough that it has taken so long to tackle the problem of the pub.
Yet the current powers for the city council to deal with such situations are limited and time consuming. Of course, there must be proper legal processes to protect the rights of property owners, but surely we need to be able to deal with empty and disused buildings more effectively on behalf of the local community. Abandoned buildings are not only ugly eyesores, they can become a blight on an area, deterring other potential businesses and making residents feel that their neighbourhood is uncared for and neglected. Sadly, the Gainsborough pub is not the only building which has stood empty and unused for years, so this is part of a wider problem. Put simply, local councils need more effective powers and better resources to deal with the issue of properties and sites being bought up and then ‘sat on’ by landlords.
I am delighted that we can move forward and do something with the pub site. I know people will have different views about how it could be used but, with pubs struggling to stay open across the UK in the face of competition from supermarkets, reopening it as a pub cannot be part of the council’s remit. In my view, developing the site for much needed housing together with the option of using the Gainsborough Square frontage for some kind of social space is the way forward. Lockleaze urgently needs new homes if it is to thrive, and it needs Gainsborough Square’s role as the heart of community to be fully restored.