Pub closure hits the heart of the community

A pub closure decision has “torn the heart” out of a community just weeks before Christmas.

The King Pin on Archer Road, Stevenage has been serving its community since the neighbourhood was built in the 1960s, but on January 16 the landlord will pull his last pint before the doors are shut for good. In an agreement between owners Green King and the borough council, the pub has been sold to make way for a community centre.

Landlord Lee Chitty who took over in August was aware the pub was under threat but was hoping to keep it open for at least another two years.

He said many of the drinkers had been coming there for years and it was part of the social fabric of the area.

“It’s the only pub around here within walking distance for some people. It’s a family pub and at the heart of the community,” he said.

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The original closure date agreed between the council and the brewery was due to be tomorrow (Wednesday), but the landlord was given a reprieve by Green King so the he could honour Christmas party bookings.

Archer Road resident Margaret Allen, 74, whose husband has drunk at the pub for 50 years, said the pub had improved dramatically in the last year thanks to the new publicans.

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“We had an awful landlord last year who really ran it into the ground, but the new landlord has been really good. They are really trying to pull out all the stops.

“It’s not very nice – having customers all these years and saying ‘up yours’ basically. There’s no other pub round here. There’s never any trouble. It’s just a damn awful shame.”

Fellow regular Darren Nash said: “It’s really torn the heart out of our community.”

A spokesman for Greene King, which owns the pub, said it was sold to the council after the authority said it wanted to use the land for regeneration.

He said: “A sale of the King Pin pub was agreed after Stevenage Borough Council, which owns the land on which the pub stands, approached us with the desire to carry out a neighbourhood regeneration project of the area. The closure date was agreed mutually with the council. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused customers.”

A council spokesman said Greene King had decided to close the pub for commercial reasons and “no pressure” was applied to the company.

He added that the authority will take over ownership of the site “to enable the future regeneration of the neighbourhood centre”. The local community will be consulted on the project, he added, but was unable to give a date for when the scheme might begin.

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