PLANS are being put into place to halt the decline of a "redundant and neglected" hotel in a busy Hereford street.

A new bid was made for listed buildings consent last month to carry out vital works at the Royal Oak, at the junction of South Street and Etnam Street, in Leominster.

The application said it would be an "enormous task to rectify damage caused from the long-term neglect", with external works expected to cost a minimum of £210,000.

But back in 1986, the hotel was marketed as a top venue in the town under owners Len and Anne Eden and Greg and Sue Surrey.

Hereford Times: Anne Eden and Margaret Hopkins behind the bar at the Royal Oak in 1986. Picture: Hereford TimesAnne Eden and Margaret Hopkins behind the bar at the Royal Oak in 1986. Picture: Hereford Times

The two couples took on the hotel that year, with Mr Eden saying its lounge bar was the most popular place in Leominster in which to enjoy a drink, boasting one of the widest selections of real ales for miles around.

Afternoon teas and coffee were also on offer at the hotel's Acorn bar, while the foursome had hopes to reopen the "delightful" old wine bar in the cellars.

Hereford Times: Len Eden and Greg Surrey at the Royal Oak in Leominster. Picture: Hereford TimesLen Eden and Greg Surrey at the Royal Oak in Leominster. Picture: Hereford Times

They also planned to upgrade the Regency Room upstairs to host meetings, auctions and balls, and the Royal Oak Ballroom for larger gatherings and auctions.

Spit-roasted meats were a speciality at the hotel, with the menu offering spit-roast duck, pheasant, chicken, and beef alongside sandwiches, roasts, and more exotic fare including escargots and lobster.

Over the years, the business had earned various accolades, including a three-crown rating from the English Tourist Board.

It sold for £475,000 in 2000, when new owners Martin Radcliffe and Nigel Thomas planned to raise the profile of the 17th century hotel and refurbish its 18 bedrooms and public areas.

But the hotel's heydays were not to last, with a series of problems hitting the venue and visitors in recent years leaving less than complimentary reviews on websites including Tripadvisor.

Hereford Times: Damage on show at the Royal Oak in Leominster in 2011. Picture: Hereford TimesDamage on show at the Royal Oak in Leominster in 2011. Picture: Hereford Times

A succession of short-lived operators came and went at the hotel, and in July 2011, the hotel closed as a legal battle raged between the owner and tenant.

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Further trouble hit the venue in 2015, when its licence was revoked after a DJ was left with a two-inch gash to his head in a bottle attack.

Hereford Times: The Royal Oak Hotel in 2015. Picture: Hereford TimesThe Royal Oak Hotel in 2015. Picture: Hereford Times

Herefordshire Council at the time said they had taken the rare step after hearing about a history of problems at the Royal Oak, with West Mercia Police Chief Inspector Adam Thomas revealing 100 incidents had been recorded since 2009 for drunk or violent behaviour inside the venue or by customers leaving.

But hope is now on the horizon for the hotel, which most recently sold three years ago for £380,000.

It is one of several in the town set to benefit from £3.6 million of Government funding under the High Street Heritage Action Zone project.

According to the project’s delivery plan, the hotel’s new owner is keen to work with the town council to restore it in order to provide “much needed” visitor accommodation.