A PUB which was feared to have been closed for good after being boarded up last summer, is close to having new licensees according to the owners.

The Alma Tavern closed down after previous tenant Tim Churchman walked away from the city pub this time last year just months into his contract, after Star Pubs & Bars (SPB) took over.

Many feared the departure of the experienced pub hand, who had sunk thousands of pounds of his own money into the Droitwich Road venue had sounded its death knell.

But the brewery has this week announced it is currently finalising the legalities on a pair of, at this time unnamed, new licensees with experience in the pub trade.

“SPB has a new operator on board and are just finalising plans for a major, exciting refurbishment of the Alma Tavern, which we’ll be able to share details of in mid-to-late June,” said a company spokesman.

Artwork was released in January showing what the refurbished pub would look like, though Mr Churchman had said continual delays with the revamp were one of the reasons he had decided to leave.

At the start of the year, a spokesman for SPB had also said subsidence works had been completed, while maintenance work was ongoing.

However, they said a full refurbishment would only be undertaken once a new licensee had come onboard.

Mr Churchman, 54, who now runs The Bridge Inn, Tibberton, said last June: “I feel sorry for the Alma – I wanted to keep it going as a community pub, but there was too much uncertainty and I couldn’t carry on losing money.”

He had taken over as part of a tenant-at-will agreement with previous owners Punch Taverns, which means there is no fixed term – but said he was assured by SPB he had first option on a longer-term lease despite initially advertising the lease without his knowledge.

He said a refurbishment had been planned under the previous owners, but there was no clear communication about when that would take place once the new owners took over.

“It’s hard to attract new business when people are walking past, and they know nothing’s changed for 15 years,” said Mr Churchman.

He said he had reported a leaking roof and drainage problems in the cellar, which appeared to fall on deaf ears.