USE it or lose it is the message from businessmen taking over one of West Oxford’s few remaining pubs.
The Holly Bush on Osney Island has been bought by development company VO Properties which has said it will remain as a pub for the time being.
But David O’Neill, a director of VO Properties, has said that if the former Greene King pub is not a commercial success it is likely to be closed and could be turned into housing.
He said: “We have spent a bit of money on it so we are going to run it as a pub for now and see how it goes. We will renovate the bed and breakfast upstairs.
“We are normally a property development company and this is our first pub.
“I guess if it wasn’t a pub it would be residential development or extended as more of a B&B if that side is more successful.”
Mr O’Neill, whose company finalised the deal to buy the Bridge Street pub last month, said it would be serving food but wouldn’t become a gastropub and added that he would be looking into serving real ales.
Greene King put the pub up for sale in July last year and while the Suffolk-based brewery said it was being sold with its licence, its estate agent Fleurets marketed it as a development opportunity.
If The Holly Bush closes, it would leave only two pubs in the whole of West Oxford – The Kite in Mill Street and The Punter, which is also on Osney Island.
The Osney Arms in Botley Road has been closed since November 2011 because of a lack of custom. It was sold at auction in 2012 and has since become a B&B.
Greene King also sold The George Inn further down Botley Road in May 2011 and hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds now has a store there.
Once there were seven pubs in the area, including The Carpenters Arms, now a McDonalds, and The White House, now a Chinese restaurant.
There has been a pub on the Holly Bush site since 1842 when it was called the Bush and Railway. It was renamed The Holly Bush in 1897 and rebuilt in 1935.
After several years as Walter Mittey’s, it reverted to The Holly Bush in 2002.