Published: 06:00, 27 October 2020
| Updated: 13:15, 27 October 2020
The director of a property agency is in the "unprecedented" position of having two town centre pubs on his books at the same time.
Stafford Perkins is currently looking for a tenant for the Old Prince of Wales pub in Ashford's New Street, as well as an owner for the John Wallis Pub in Middle Row.
The former has only recently been sold after being boarded up last September, with the new landlord hoping to let out the upstairs rooms and pub.
The latter - which may be better known as the former Man of Kent - was boarded up by current owner Shen Sen during lockdown and never reopened when hospitality venues were allowed to do so.
Richard Stafford, director of Ashford-based Stafford Perkins, said: "I've never had that many in the past - I've moved along The Phoenix in Tufton Street and The Oranges in Elwick Road, but I've never had two in any one go and I've been doing this for 35 years.
"I'm not saying there's not been two at once but two with one agent is extremely rare in my experience.
"Quite often they change hands with no one knowing as it's done in-house or through pubco.
"It's a real shame that some pubs have gone forever, but there's certainly a lot of interest for all sorts of properties at the moment."
He said the two pubs might be indicative of the currently struggling hospitality sector, caused by the lockdown, social distancing measures and 10pm curfew.
But he was optimistic the pubs could serve other roles.
The Grade II-listed John Wallis pub - on the market for offers in the region of £550,000 - recently received planning permission for the residential development of the first and second floors.
Permission was also granted for a new bar in the basement.
The surveyor also suggested The Old Prince of Wales could be transformed into a coffee-shop-cum-bar, diversifying like other businesses in the town centre.
The rental price is set at £30,000 p.a., and includes the bar area, the beer garden and a basement.
Mr Stafford has noted that Covid-19 has had little impact on the number of people and companies looking to move into new premises.
He said: "We're very, very busy, with the industrial market like warehouses and factories proving very popular.
"My view is we're still dealing with the pent-up Brexit demand.
"This time last year, nothing was happening with it, everyone was uncertain with regards to Brexit.
"The election last year gave us answers as to Brexit and the leading party.
"When January kicked off, we were expecting a corker of a year - there was confidence again - but then the virus ramped up in March and stalled business.
"But it's really picked up since and the business is only getting busier and busier."
He highlighted warehouses and retail units as particularly popular at the moment.