RESIDENTS have been left confused over the 'sale' of an historic pub near Northwich which is about to be auctioned off for a fourth time in just two years.

The Holly Bush, on Warrington Road, has been described as ‘an excellent economic, social, and historic asset’ by campaigners striving to save the 400-year-old pub from redevelopment.

The pub was last up for auction on property website Rightmove on June 20, under their ‘residential’ category, achieving £200,000 - twice the guide price - but the sale fell through. 

The upcoming auction on Tuesday, August 1, will be the fourth time it’s been sold in this way, leaving villagers, for whom the pub was a cherished community resource, wondering what's going on.

Northwich Guardian: The pub has now stood empty more than two yearsThe pub has now stood empty more than two years (Image: Alistair Nicholls)

Comberbach resident and campaigner, Alistair Nicholls, believes the site is being marketed inappropriately, giving buyers an unrealistic impression of the site’s residential potential.

Alistair said: “What’s been happening at the whole Holly Bush over the last two years is economic, social, cultural, historic and environmental vandalism.

“The original site has been broken up into multiple plots, with all except this one having already sold, and none can easily operate or exist without some relationship with another.

“This is all with the intention of trying to circumvent planning permission limitations and rules and to maximise sales proceeds.

“The locality search also states no asset of community value has been identified, but the Holly Bush pub is the subject of an asset of community value allocation, as is other land on the site.

“It’s also a grade-II listed building, in Bartington Conservation area, and the whole site has been left to deteriorate, with the public denied access to an important historic building.

“The splitting up of the site in the manner that was undertaken has also prevented a viable business operating.”

Northwich Guardian: The condition of the grade-II listed building is a concern for campaigners who want to see it re-opened as a pubThe condition of the grade-II listed building is a concern for campaigners who want to see it re-opened as a pub (Image: Alistair Nicholls)

Alistair wrote to Rightmove expressing his concerns, as current planning permission at the site is for business use only.

He believes the property should be advertised under their commercial category, as ‘a potential development opportunity’ to give buyers a realistic idea of what can be done at the site.  

A spokesman for Rightmove said: "As this property is commercial but also has a residence attached, with bedrooms, bathrooms kitchen, etc, the seller is free to advertise on Rightmove as either.

"Rightmove is not a regulator, and they can advertise this if they follow our technical guidelines, which state: If the commercial property could also be used as a residential home, a residential listing can be created, and the description must be tailored to a residential audience focusing on the aspect of living in the property, but briefly mentioning the business."