Sun, 12 Feb 2017
HAMSTEAD Marshall Parish Council has formally objected to fresh plans which could see The White Hart Inn pub converted into housing.
The controversial plans have been resubmitted, having been refused by West Berkshire Council last year.
The 16th-century inn has been shut since September 11, 2015, after the owner of the pub Stella Coulthurst said it was economically unviable.
A group of villagers subsequently set up a campaign group to try to save it.
The original application was turned down by West Berkshire Council in April 2016, to allow more time for bids from anyone interested in taking over the running of the pub.
But with no ‘realistic’ offers having been received, the decision has been taken to resubmit the plans.
In the planning statement accompanying the application, it says: “There has been a lack of interest and no offers reflecting a realistic price for the leasehold have been forthcoming to demonstrate that the reopening of a public house would be economically viable.
“Consequently, the building is genuinely redundant and the change to a residential use would not result in a subsequent request for a replacement building.
“The residential conversion of the buildings would be the only means to secure a viable future for the brownfield site, which will ensure the essential upkeep and maintenance of this prominent building in the village.”
However, Hamstead Marshall Parish Council – and many residents – feel the pub is still viable if changes are made.
One of the parish council’s objections is that two separate financial viability studies carried out last year prove the pub can be profitable.
The parish council also says it doesn’t feel the pub is being marketed at a realistic price and that the plans are against planning policy guidelines which say community pubs should be protected.
The pub was recognised by West Berkshire Council as an ‘asset of community value’ last year.
The chairman of West Berkshire Campaign for Real Ale Richard Scullion previously said it was a “lovely community pub that should be put ahead of developers”.
West Berkshire Council is due to make a decision on the application on March 9.
Newbury MP Richard Benyon has registered an official objection to the plans, while Lib Dem Judith Bunting has also campaigned to keep the pub open.