A YOUTH has been arrested on suspicion of arson over a fire which broke out in a closed-down pub yesterday afternoon, Sunday.

A huge emergency service presence descended on the site of the disused former The Bells pub building.

Three fire engines from Warrington, Birchwood and Penketh fire stations rushed to Longshaw Street in Bewsey shortly before 4pm.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two hose reels and a high-pressure fan to extinguish the fire.

They were also assisted by the aerial ladder platform from Lymm Fire Station.

A thermal imaging camera was used to check the fire was out, with crews being in attendance at the scene for two and a half hours.

Cheshire Police has confirmed that a 16-year-old local boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire, and he remains in custody.

A spokesman for the force said: “Shortly after 4pm on Sunday, November 19, police were called to reports of a fire at a disused public house on Longshaw Street, Warrington.

“Officers attended the scene and assisted with road closures while firefighters dealt with the incident.

“The cause of the fire is believed to be deliberate, and a 16-year-old local boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson in relation to the incident. The boy remains in custody at this time.”

Anyone with any information is asked to call Cheshire Police on 101, quoting IML 1694816.

Last summer, it was reported that land on which the building sits and has planning permission to be converted into nine apartments was on the market.

The plans were approved in May 2021, with the site listed with a guide price of £300,000.

However, the same listing states that the sale has been completed subject to conditions.

The pub has been ‘susceptible to anti-social behaviour’ in the past, with planning application documents stating: “The Bells has been closed for a prolonged period, prior to which it was riddled with licensing and drug-related problems.

“These issues resulted in the premises’ licence being revoked, therefore prohibiting its use as a public house.

“Since closing, marketing of the premises has taken place – with the only interest to note being for a change of use away from a public house.

“As such, it is reasonable to assume that the site is surplus to requirements as a public house and an alternative, appropriate reuse of the building should be found.

“This application seeks consent for the repurposing of the redundant public house building in favour of a high-quality residential development.”