A popular Co Down pub which was destroyed in a fire earlier this year looks set to rise from the ashes as part of a multi-million pound rebirth aimed at creating one of Northern Ireland’s top entertainment venues.
More than a dozen fire units fought the flames at the Anchor Bar, in Newcastle.
The premises – a popular port of call for locals and visitors alike – has remainded closed since the blaze – which was started accidentally – took hold during the early hours of a Friday morning in mid-January.
The Anchor has been a mainstay in the town for generations, pulling pints and bringing the banter for well over a century.
The substantial-sized property boasted a snooker area, outdoor beer garden, public performance space and more to the rear.
It has been a tremendous loss to the seaside town.
But now the local hostelry – on the Bryansford Road – looks set to make a welcome return.
And it will do so as part of a mixed-use development.
Proposals have been drawn up in the name of the Anchor Bar Ltd, and lodged with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
If approved, the works would see the demolition of the fire-damaged premises.
And in its place would be built a new bar – as well as five apartments.
According to a design and access statement, there is no other options other than the building to be demolished.
It states: “The fire started in the kitchen and, while it was brought under control without impacting neighbouring buildings, fire and water damage have meant that it has been left structurally unsound.”
The replacement will – the applicants believe – provide one of Northern Ireland’s best entertainment spots.
The statement reveals: “The brief for the site was to design a new bar and entertainment complex that built on some of the success of the Anchor Bar historically but that responds to the needs of a modern social culture, both internally and externally, in a way that competes with the best that Northern Ireland has to offer.
“There is also a desire to return some of the site to its historic residential use and to improve the streetscape along this section of the Bryansford Road.”
The first floor will include a multi-function room and performance space. It will “provide Newcastle with a venue that can welcome performance artists and accommodate them professionally”.
Traditionally, the area has narrow pavements but the new venue will be “set back slightly” to make access and exits “appropriate for patrons”.
To the north west of the site is a section “assigned to residential use”. The ‘service core’ has been designed to separate it from the bar to “remove concerns about noise issues”.
There would be a total of five apartments – three single-bedroom units and two two-bedroom properties – with a total of eight parking spaces, these also being for use and to be shared with bar staff. But there is also a large car park – Donard Park – adjacent to the site.
There would be an ‘external amenity area’ for the first floor occupants accessible via communal stairs.
A locked bin storage area – and secure facility for bicycles – is also included.
The floorspace – if given the go-ahead – will almost double in size, from just over 6,600 sq ft to close to 13,200 sq ft.
The proposals will now be advertised shortly with a decision expected in due course.