Historic Greater Manchester pub could soon be pulling pints again if new plans get the go-ahead

Last orders might not have necessarily been called at The White Lion in Stockport, despite the upper floors being turned into apartments.

One of Greater Manchester’s most historic pubs could soon be pulling pints again if plans for the final phase of its revamp are given the go ahead.

The upper floors of The White Lion, in Stockport town centre, were transformed into luxury apartments in 2020, breathing new life into the Grade II listed building after it had stood vacant for more than 10 years.

Now there are plans for a ‘sensitive refurbishment’ of the old Great Underbank inn – thought to be the town’s longest continually licensed public house – in order to return the basement and ground floor to their ‘original and optimum use’.

The present 1904 building echoes the style and detailing of the original White Lion Hotel and is described by Historic England as a ‘hearty blend of late medieval and Baroque features in a typically exuberant Edwardian fashion’.

What are the plans for The White Lion?

Plans brought forward by Stockport Leisure propose internal and external alterations that will allow The White Lion to operate as a pub again. While it is accepted there will be some ‘minor negative impact’ on the fabric of the building, the applicant argues this is ‘outweighed’ by the benefits the project would bring.

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“The proposal will bring back into use a vacant listed building helping to maintain its long-term future,” documents add.

“The overall scheme will complement the established and emerging leisure and night-time offer within the Market/Underbanks area which has largely been driven by independent operators and makes a vital contribution to the attractiveness of Stockport town centre.”

Proposed works include a ‘public house fit-out’, including toilets, a kitchen, back of house areas, horseshoe bar, bench seating and ‘decorative finishes’.

The historic mosaic flooring will be cleaned, while other areas are to be covered over and protected to allow for new floor finishes. Repair work will also be carried out to the timber decoration and mouldings around the entrance.

‘Significant public benefits’ are said to include the reuse of a ‘prominent building’ that ‘may act as a catalyst for further investment and development’ in the town centre.

Planning papers state the pub would create 16 jobs, while the scheme would also provide employment during the construction phase.

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Applicant claims returning building to pub use would enhance Stockport town centre

A new outdoor seating area, for up to 60 people, would also ‘promote footfall, activity and vibrancy on surrounding streets, helping to improve safety and security, and benefiting other businesses in Stockport town centre’ the applicant claims.

Weather-permitting, it would open during pub hours – which are proposed to be from 9am to 11.30pm from Monday to Thursday, and from 9am till midnight Friday to Sunday.

Planning papers add that the proposal ‘will be a destination in its own right’ and ‘generate pedestrian footfall which will be beneficial for the Market/Underbanks area and the town centre generally.

“The premises will provide a service for the convenience of the shopping public thereby improving the overall attractiveness of the centre,” the document continues.

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“Opening hours have been applied for to allow the premises to open during the daytime and into the evening. The evening and night-time economy, including both restaurants and drinking establishments, have played an important part in the renaissance of this area and have assisted in bringing other buildings back into active economic use.

“The proposal will contribute to the ongoing regeneration and improvement of Stockport town centre.”

A decision on whether to grant planning permission for the scheme will be made by Stockport Council.