New plea to revive the White Swan

campaigners are making a new call for people willing to revive a Downend pub to come forward.

A plan to convert the White Swan in North Street into housing has been thrown out by South Gloucestershire Council.

The pub closed in 2020, having traded for around 140 years, and was sold for just over £300,000 in 2022 after operator Admiral Taverns said it did not have a “long-term sustainable future”. The building was fenced off from the road in 2022.

A planning application by owners Mordam Developments Ltd to convert the building into two two-bedroom homes, with off-street parking for three cars, demolishing its single-storey extensions and filling in the beer cellar, was refused by council officers using delegated powers.

In its statement explaining the decision, the council said the applicant had failed to show that the pub was no longer viable “due to lack of information informing how the property was marketed for sale”.

A report said the extra two homes that would be created were of “limited” benefit when compared with the loss of a “local heritage asset”.

The council said: ” The scheme would result in the loss of the White Swan Public house, an important local landmark and community facility.

“The proposal would completely erode the character and distinctiveness of the existing public house by removing the front facade and all heritage features.

“These adverse impacts of the proposed development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the perceived benefits of the scheme.”

The Bitton-based owners have yet to lodge an appeal against the decision.

Members of the Bristol & District Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) pubs group, set up to fight the closure and redevelopment of “viable” pubs, are offering to support any community groups or potential operators “interested in saving the White Swan”.

Group member Ian Beckey said: “Eventually, we would like to see the pub reopen once again as a local community facility.”

Describing the refusal of planning permission as “encouraging news”, the group is asking anyone interested to email them at 

The group also hopes someone will give a new lease of life to the Downend Tavern, in Downend Road, which closed in November 2020 but is still available for lease from its owner, the Wellington Pub Company.

Ian said two pubs were being lost each day nationwide because of a “perfect storm” of high property values, venture capital buyouts of pub companies and a post-pandemic decline in trade for the hospitality industry.

He said: “We desperately need to reverse this trend and put pubs at the very heart of the community, with effective planning policies being put in place to safeguard them.”