THE owner of a popular Poole pub which has been closed since January has said a new licensee will be announced “in the next few weeks”.

Penn Central, at Parkstone’s Penn Hill, has been closed since its long-standing landlord was ousted to make way for a new tenant.

Owner Star Pubs & Bars had said the venue would reopen in May following a £350,000 refurbishment, but it remains closed.

A spokesperson for the company said: "We have a candidate going through the legal process of taking on the lease of Penn Central and will share details of future plans in the next few weeks once this is complete."

The pub company, owned by Heineken, has said the venue will have a new name when it reopens.

Plans to increase the indoor seating space at the pub by extending it into an area previously used for outdoor seating were approved by BCP Council in March.

A planning officer said the move would reduce noise at the pub and would “enhance the facilities at an existing pub/restaurant in a manner which preserves its existing appearance and therefore the character and appearance of the street scene and setting of the adjacent conservation area”.

Ben Manners, who was the landlord at Penn Central for 14 years, left at the end of January after being given notice by the pub company.

He said he had turned down an opportunity to sign a new lease at the start of the pandemic because he would have had to produce a forecast of sales two years ahead during a Covid lockdown.

He also said he would have faced a rent increase from £39,000 a year to £65,000 if he had stayed on the company’s terms. He said he would have had to contribute £100,000 to a refurbishment when he had already spent £40,000 on the building during lockdown.

The pub was advertised to potential landlords at an annual rent of £62,700 with total “ingoing costs” of at least £109,631.

Star Pubs & Bars estimated the premises’ annual turnover at £641,942, a figure which Mr Manners claimed was “very optimistic”.