PUB giant Wetherspoon is “keen” to open up in Wellington.
The business has confirmed it is looking at a possible site for a bar in the town but would not say where.
The County Gazette understands the ground floor of the old Town Hall in Fore Street is top of its shopping list, with ITV also set to move in upstairs.
It is thought the independent broadcasting company is planning to open a district office in Wellington for its regional reporters, rather than them having to work from home or travel to Exeter.
Keith Wheatley, vice-chairman of Wellington Business Association, has welcomed the possibility of a Wether-spoon in the town centre.
He said: “When big coffee chain Coffee#1 opened in town there was some scepticism that it would put the cafés out of business but it hasn’t.
“I think a Wetherspoon would pull in people who do not use the current town centre pubs so there is a whole new audience for a modern, family-friendly pub.
“There is certainly a gap in the town centre that Wetherspoon could fill but I don’t think existing pubs need to worry. Any energetic, forward-thinking company is always welcome in the town.”
There has been talk of the 800-pub chain opening in town for some years. In 2005, the Gazette reported the Town Hall was in the company’s sights but nothing emerged.
Now though, it appears rumours could become a reality and publicans are waiting to see what effect its potential opening will have.
Anna Winter, manager at the Vintage Inn on Fore Street, said: “I don’t think you know what sort of impact it will have until it comes.
“I don’t think it will be great for business as they can cater for a large number of people and sell drinks cheaper; we can’t compete with that.
“But we have got some loyal customers so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Landlord at the King’s Arms, Martin Barrington, added: “I think it will be a positive thing and hopefully bring some people into the town.
“Personally, I don’t think it will affect me too much as I’m open until 3am but I don’t think some of the others will be pleased about it.
“It could do more harm to the cafes than the pubs because it sells cheap coffee and cheap food.”