A BROMSGROVE councillor has criticised the owners of the town’s former Greyhound pub, claiming more should have been done to keep the building safe, secure and water-tight.
Coun Luke Mallett said the pub was identified as a non-designated heritage asset and developers Catesby had a responsibility to protect it.
He said he and other residents were shocked by the blaze which damaged the building last night.
Six fire engines and more than 30 firefighters battled the blaze for several hours.
The Worcester Road re-opened last night but Fox Lane will have to remain closed until the roof has been made safe.
“This fire leaves serious questions for the absentee owners of this property to answer.
“Despite the clear local historical significance of the building and the decision by Bromsgrove District Council on two occasions to protect it from immediate demolition, they have failed to protect and secure this building.
“Whilst at this time the causes of the fire remain unknown, what is apparent is that these owners don’t care about this site, beyond the potential to build 15 houses on the car park and a roundabout over the pub, and so have left it to wrack and vandalism.
“Repeatedly there have been requests from local authorities for the site to be properly secured. It’s very clear that the absentee owners have not bothered.
“Only this week the fence was hanging off, giving access to the rear of the building.
“If Catesby cannot be trusted to adequately protect and secure an empty building, why on earth should they be trusted with developing anything in Bromsgrove?”
He thanked the fire service and other emergency services for taking quick and decisive action and called for a full investigation as a matter of urgency, adding Catesby must take urgent steps to safeguard what remained of the building.
“I hope that no personnel or members of the public were injured in the blaze.”
The developer said it was working closely with the fire service and the police to investigate the cause of the fire.
Jonathan Babb, Technical Director for Catesby Estates said; “Since purchasing the property nearly three years ago it has been the target for numerous recorded incidences of break-in, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, despite our best efforts to repeatedly secure the building.
“The building has been secured in accordance with the advice received from both the police and the local authority.
“We would like to thank the Emergency Services for containing the fire, and we will now be working with the council to re-secure the site and ensure the safety of those living in close proximity of the building.”
The Greyhound pub was closed in April 2016 and has been unoccupied.
An application to bulldoze the building so it could make way for housing was turned down by Bromsgrove District Council’s planning committee in 2017 with the developer claiming the benefits of knocking it down outweighed the benefits of retaining it.
Catesby currently has an 505-home application for a site pending consideration, which the land the Greyhound is on is part of.
The developer is hoping to build 490 properties on the Whitford Road site and 15 on the former Greyhound site.
A new roundabout to improve highways access is also part of the plan.