Former village pub/restaurant set to become homes

The Crown and Thistle pub in Hoddlesden
The Crown and Thistle pub in Hoddlesden

A FORMER village pub could be converted into homes.

The Crown and Thistle Inn in Roman Road, Hoddlesden, closed in July.

Now its owner Mo Zhabi of Little Italy Cuisine Ltd wants to turn it into two houses.

He has applied to Blackburn with Darwen Council for planning permission to make the change.

Mr Zhabi and his wife Julie provided thousands of free meals to elderly and vulnerable members of the community during the coronavirus lockdown.

They took over the Crown and Thistle in 2007 and operated it as a restaurant with 120 seats and a small corner bar.

In 2019 the couple started to think about retirement so put the restaurant up for sale.

No buyer has come forward.

The associated Crown and Thistle Bakery in Blackburn Road in Darwen which the couple opened last year continues to trade.

Mr Zhabi said: "During the period of operation between 2010 and July 2020 up to eight staff were employed as kitchen staff, waitresses, bar staff, cleaners and maintenance workers.

"Unfortunately due to a significant decline in trade due to Covid-19 and a failure to sell the business on July 23 the restaurant closes and the building has been unused and vacant since then.

"All stock was removed form the premises immediately after closure.

"We continue to run the bakery which is a bit easier.

"Part of the problem was that we had a restaurant with more than 100 covers but a car park with just 25 spaces.

"We could not get permission to extend it.

"Fortunately we seemed to close at the right time - just before all the prices went up.

"If approved we would put the two houses up for sale."

The proposal submitted to the council is for two semi-detached houses in the fabric of the building, each with three bedrooms, three ground floor living and dining rooms and a kitchen.

West Pennine ward's Cllr Julie Slater said: "It has been empty for a while.

"I seems like a sensible move.

"It is bad to get to in the winter.

"Personally I have no objections to this."