Wed, 05 Feb 2020
The Planning Inspectorate has rejected an appeal by the owner of the Winterbourne Arms who was seeking permission to convert the pub into a dwelling.
The ruling is the latest twist in a long-running dispute, with a group of Winterbourne villagers consistently standing against Nicholas Roffe’s proposals for residential development of the inn.
The Inspectorate’s decision is a major blow to that plan.
Mr Roffe purchased the Winterbourne Arms in 2018.
His refusal to reopen the pub – despite the assurances of the previous owner that it would continue to serve the village – provoked a backlash.
Mr Roffe has always contended that the Winterbourne Arms is not an economically viable business.
However, such claims were contradicted by the planning inspector’s report.
The report also notes the building’s status as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), a complicating factor where any redevelopment is concerned.
Inspector Benjamin Webb – who assessed Mr Roffe’s appeal – stated: “The past importance of the pub as a community facility is disputed by the appellant, citing factors such as its reliance on broader trade, and its lack of hosted activities such as clubs.
“I see no reason to believe that the pub played anything other than an important role in village life prior to its closure in 2017, offering a place to meet and socialise, as too employment opportunities.
“The extent to which the use was valued is indeed clearly reflected in the high level of public representation made in relation to the planning application, and further submissions made in relation to the appeal.”
Organisers of the Save The Winterbourne Arms campaign have praised the inspector’s decision.
A message posted by the group’s Twitter account states: “Beyond delighted to announce that the planning appeal was rejected and that permission to develop the pub as houses has been rejected a second time.
“The decision was pretty clear and unambiguous.
“Massive thank you to all for your continued support.”