Published: 06:00, 08 June 2021
| Updated: 07:33, 14 June 2021
Two historic city pubs just 160 metres away from each other still sit empty as the hunt for new people to run the sites continues.
A £425,000 price tag has been slapped on the freehold for the Two Doves in Nunnery Fields, Canterbury, by agents from Ashford-based Sibley Pares.
Meanwhile, up the road in Oaten Hill, the Cross Keys remains boarded up as owner Star Pubs and Bars’ search for a new operator enters its seventh month.
The Two Doves has remained shut since 2019, when the owners of the site launched a failed bid to convert the old alehouse into two homes.
Canterbury City Council snubbed the scheme – but now Sibley Pares is advertising the building, and says the site has the potential for alternative uses.
Advertising material states: “The property dates approximately from the mid-19th century.
“It is in a popular Canterbury location (and has the) potential for alternative uses, subject to planning.”
Papers submitted to the city council two years ago revealed the Two Doves’ trading loss of £740 in 2013 rose to more than £9,100 in 2017.
At the time, the developers blamed this on the pub’s “small, cramped nature” and “inability to develop to provide a food offer owing to its small size”.
In planning documents, they added: “Over a period of nine months, it failed to find a purchaser with only five enquiries, two viewings and no offers being made to run the site as a public house.
“It is clear that the days of the property as a public house are over – it is too small to sustain itself financially, it cannot expand to improve its offer and it faces a considerable amount of competition in the area.”
And Star Pubs says it is now in discussion with a number of people interested in taking on the 18th-century Cross Keys.
KentOnline revealed in February that the firm is planning a £300,000 transformation to turn it into a “modern and quirky” inn.
A spokeswoman for the firm says a 20ft-deep shaft, which collapsed in the men’s toilets, has now been filled, but it is waiting until a new licensee comes on board before beginning the rest of the work.
She added: “We’ve been actively seeking a new operator since November, but the pandemic has delayed our progress on recruitment, as you would expect.
“We are looking to recruit a new operator to support our plans for a major refurbishment to transform it into a community local offering a warm atmosphere, excellent food and affordable drinks.
“We’re currently in talks with a number of interested parties about taking it on.”
The pub has an annual rent of almost £49,000 and an estimated operating profit of close to £52,000 a year.