A FORMER landmark pub is in the process of demolition after years of standing boarded-up.

The Aclet pub, which stands on the edge of Woodhouse Close Estate in Bishop Auckland, shut its doors in 2017 and was taken over by North East Convenience Stores.

The company's planning application was approved for a 280sqm SPAR store to stand alongside a 106sqm hot food takeaway.

Plans have recently been amended, and the unit initially intended for the takeaway will still be built, but will now be used for retail storage.

Now work is in motion on site as brick by brick the former well loved pub is pulled down.

The Northern Echo: A demolition sign post warns public that work is now in motionA demolition sign post warns public that work is now in motion

Cllr Tanya Tucker, who represents Woodhouse Close, was involved with a two-year campaign run by locals against the original planning application.

She said: “Progress anywhere is always difficult, and quite frankly the last thing Bishop Auckland needs is another supermarket.

“But, times have changed. Everyone is struggling and what Bishop Auckland does need are businesses that can employ local people and boost our local economy.

“I’m thankful that the application has been revised and there will no longer be a hot food takeaway at this site - we definitely don’t want another one of those.”

In April 2018, campaigners had convinced a Durham County Council planning committee to turn down the plans, fearing it would lead to antisocial behaviour and disruptive noise, odours, and littering issues.

But, in December 2018, an appeal was launched by current developer Sanjeev Vadhera, and a Government planning inspector ruled in his favour, agreeing that the plans would create job opportunities and make use of the boarded-up building.

The Northern Echo: Diggers on site at The Aclet pub in Bishop AucklandDiggers on site at The Aclet pub in Bishop Auckland

Cllr Joy Allen, mayor Of Bishop Auckland, said: “It’s really disappointing to see the demise of the Aclet which holds very fond memories for many local residents who campaigned tirelessly with local councillors to save the building and against the developers plans to open up a convenience store.

"Unfortunately, after winning their initial battle, they lost their fight when the government planning inspector ruled in the developers favour.

"Since then the building has been a real cause for concern and has been subjected to arson attacks, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour.

"I sincerely hope this new development will bring the jobs promised and that local people benefit from the commercial project."

The Northern Echo: Piles of bricks now surround the pub as bit by bit it is pulled to the groundPiles of bricks now surround the pub as bit by bit it is pulled to the ground

Bishop Auckland Cllr Sam Zair said: “It is sad that we have come to this, like in so many areas pubs are finding it extremely hard to make ends meet.

“With the coronavirus and lockdown rules there will be more pubs to follow. The Aclet pub will be a big miss.”

Jay Humble, 44, who lives close to the pub, said: “As much as it is a real shame that it has been pulled down, as a resident it was a mess just sitting there, so I can only hope the new SPAR will tidy up the area.”

Joanne Proud, from Bishop Auckland, worked at the pub as a bartender from 2004 to 2006.

The 36-year-old said: “I worked behind the bar for two years and was a customer for many more, and I’ve got a lot of great memories from my time there.

“It was always friendly and welcoming, and everyone knew each other.

“It was a place where people from different walks of life could come together and form friendships.

“I think it’s a real shame for the community to lose that, and I know it was important to a lot of local people. I’m sad to see it go.”