A FORMER Cupar church looks set to be given a new lease of life as a ‘super-pub’, it emerged this week.
It is understood that giant pub chain JD Wetherspoon has taken over the former St Michael’s Church in West Port and is to seek permission to turn it into a pub.
The move is part of the Watford-based firm’s efforts to tap into smaller towns throughout Scotland.
A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said this week that it was not the firm’s policy to discuss individual sites, but he did not deny that they had bought the C-listed church.
Most of Wetherspoons’ 51 pubs in Scotland are located in disused banks and churches.
“I can say that we have identified a site in West Port,” said the spokesman.
“We have enjoyed great success in various locations in Scotland and are keen to move into smaller towns such as Cupar.”
However, the trend has prompted concern amongst the licensed trade, with fears that independently-run pubs could suffer because they can’t compete with Wetherspoons’ cheap prices.
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, told the Fife Herald: “This is typical of the kind of premises targeted by huge pub chains such as Wetherspoons.
“Inside it will be many times the size of a traditional pub, which gives us concerns about over-provision in a town the size of Cupar.
“There are also issues in terms of encouraging the abuse of alcohol.
“Our experience of so-called superpubs in other areas is that they haven’t necessarily been an asset to the community.”
News of the takeover was also greeted with dismay by one local resident, who said: “While new business is to be welcomed in the town, I am very worried about the location of the proposed pub.
“Not only is it directly next door to St Columba’s Primary School, it is also opposite a sheltered housing development.
“Wetherspoons outlets are synonymous with cheap alcohol and I fear it could attract the kind of customers that may be unwelcome in the area.”
Meanwhile Wetherspoons’ spokesman said he could not give a timescale for the opening of the new outlet as planning and licensing permission would have to be sought from Fife Council first.