AN empty eyesore pub closed for three years is due to reopen as a bar and Indian restaurant as a family plan to bring it back to its best.

The Red Lion in Witley Road, Holt Heath, near Worcester has been acquired by new management after a family from Birmingham took it over.

Work is already underway and the pub is expected the pub will reopen in the early spring.

Malvern Gazette: FLASHBACK: The auction sign on the side of the pub last July FLASHBACK: The auction sign on the side of the pub last July (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

When finished, there will be a pub, Indian restaurant, grill bar, children-friendly beer garden, play area and the car park, which has been blocked off, will return to use.

The new owner said: "With the response we have had from the locals, they are even more excited than we are. It has been closed for almost three years. This pub was the heart of the community and I hope to make it that way again.

"Teams of tradesmen are working to bring it back to its original glory."

He also wished to thank the community for their 'encouragement and good wishes' on the Holt Millennium Green Trust Facebook page. 

"With the support of the locals I would like to bring this wonderful place back into a place of pride for the local community," he said.

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The Red Lion went under the hammer in July but did not fetch the minimum asking price, then £475,000 according to Cottons the auctioneers. 

Many residents recalled with fondness what they said was the heyday of the once 'thriving' pub under former landlord, Derek Hine.

Speaking last year, Sheila Ellwood, 68, who has lived in the village since 1983 said: "I have seen the pub thrive and cease to thrive. I would love to see it back open as a new, thriving business. It's an ideal location for a business. It would have been nice if it could have been kept as a pub."

The pub closed in November 2020. A planning application has been submitted by George Windsor for two homes at the back of the site although a decision on the proposal has yet to be reached by Malvern Hills District Council.

Previous plans to demolish the pub and replace it with six four bed houses were rejected by planners after the pub was deemed to be an important community asset. However, a separate plan that would see the pub renovated was approved.

Sara Sherrey, 54, a mum-of-three has lived in the village for 28 years, said: "I would absolutely love to see it reopen as a pub. I know it requires a lot of investment and support from the community. As it stands, it just looks like such an eyesore."

Several plans for the pub have been put forward since it closed in November 2020 and at one stage it looked as though the once-popular watering hole would be torn down to make way for housing.

However, planners at Malvern Hills District Council rejected the demolition plan saying the pub was an important community asset that needed protecting but did approve a separate plan that would see the pub renovated alongside new en-suite bedrooms.