Pub owner’s pledge after mystery fire

THE owner of the empty Black Bear pub, destroyed by a mystery blaze last week, has spoken for the first time about the loss of the historical building. He now says the building in Hitchin Street, Biggleswade, will almost certainly have to be completely de

THE owner of the empty Black Bear pub, destroyed by a mystery blaze last week, has spoken for the first time about the loss of the historical building.

He now says the building in Hitchin Street, Biggleswade, will almost certainly have to be completely demolished but has promised not to leave it an ugly blot on the town centre's landscape.

Talking exclusively to The Comet, Paul Wogman, chairman of Darjan Estates based in north London, said he would be urgently putting together plans for the site and was hoping local planners would be sympathetic and support him.

Darjan had been given full conditional approval by Mid Beds District Council in May this year for an extension to an existing restaurant and there was still current planning approval for part demolition of the old building to form two flats and the erection of four one-bedroom terraced houses.


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But with the Black Bear being destroyed Mr Wogman says he will be working quickly to find a solution to the site.

"We bought the property a year ago and had a number of plans already approved by the local authority. Now, though, I have a blank canvas and must work to get it right," said Mr Wogman.

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"It is a terrible tragedy to lose such an historical building and we are keen to do the right thing to make sure it fits in with the character of other buildings in Biggleswade town centre.

"It is a beautiful market town and I don't want to leave any blot on its landscape through this fire.

"We will work hard and quickly and hope we have the support of the local authority to fast track any plans for the site.

"Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the fire but during the coming weeks we will be working to make the site safe and formulating what we are going to do. The fire has made me sick to my boots."

One solution, said Mr Wogman, was to build a commercial property on the ground floor of any new building with residential property above.

"We want to bring a sensible solution to end this whole sorry saga for the benefit of Biggleswade," added Mr Wogman.

The Black Bear site was up for sale but Mr Wogman would not reveal the asking price.

Investigators from both the fire service and the police finally entered the building on Thursday morning. They sifted through the debris to try and find the cause of the blaze, after engineers had said the property was safe after scaffolding had been erected on the two chimneys and around the walls.

Hitchin Street was reopened to traffic and pedestrians at the same time.

Investigators spent a day and a half sifting through the debris looking for clues as to how the fire started.

Police believe the fire is suspicious and are continuing their investigations.

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