A NEW family pub will open yards from a Saxon King’s burial chamber next spring after an archaeological dig failed to unearth any new treasure.
Excavators have started tearing up the former Toomey Renault car showroom site in Priory Crescent, Southend, ready for a new 180-seat pub and restaurant.
Archaeology experts dug three boreholes to test if the site, yards from where the remains of a Saxon King were unearthed in 2003, held any more finds before workmen moved in.
Local historians claim this was insufficient for the one-acre site and fear valuable artefacts will be forever buried under the 2,000 sq ft pub.
But Southend Council has given the thumbs-up to the new pub, which will create 45 jobs.
Jonathan Garston, Southend councillor responsible for planning, said: “It’s positive it is moving forward and they have been quick to get on site. We can’t have this site sitting empty.
“You hear about pubs closing down across the country and the employment and regeneration is great for the area.
“It went through the proper planning process and as long as they keep up with the conditions, it’s very positive.”
Wessex Archaeology recommended no wider archaeological dig after three holes four inches wide and 16 to 19ft deep failed to uncover any deposits with “significant palaeo environmental potential”.
Mark Sharp, of group Saxon King in Priory Park, which has campaigned for a new museum in Priory Park to house the Saxon King finds, said: “Four inches is less than a tea cup in width.
“If they had done that on the burial chamber site they probably wouldn’t have found the Saxon King and a road would have been built across it. Three boreholes across that site is not sufficient.”
A spokesman for Marston’s Inns and Taverns, which is building the pub, said: “We have satisfied our obligations under the planning permission for the site.
“This family pub restaurant will be a Milestone Rotisserie format, offering traditional fare and a tasty selection of meals served from its hot rotisserie.
“We are confident that the site will be ready to welcome locals in spring 2014.”