Tue, 28 Jul 2020
THE sun has set on a once popular pub as plans to convert the building into a house have been approved.
The Sun in the Wood, in Ashmore Green, has been vacant since 2018 and a Mr and Mrs Morrison of Sulhamstead have applied to convert it.
Planning documents said that the pub’s location, changing drinking trends and nearby competition would make re-opening it unviable.
The report was written before the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it would have on the hospitality sector.
Approving the plans, West Berkshire Council said: “The site is also situated in a remote location, separated from nearby dwellings and does not directly form part of a community, and so the loss of the public house will not be harmful to the provision of community assets.
“The proposal is therefore considered to be redundant as a public house and can be considered for conversion to a dwelling without harming the rural economy.”
Alterations to the former pub, including reducing the size of the car park and replacing doors and windows, form part of the application.
The council said these changes would retain the character and appearance of the pub and would not be harmful to the rural character of the site.
An ecological appraisal concluded that it was unlikely that bats would be roosting in the building.
The council has asked for bird and bat boxes to be incorporated to align with planning policy.
There are 14 trees within the site proposed to be felled, including ash trees with ash dieback, as well as an oak and sweet chestnut.
In conclusion, the council said: “The proposal will not have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the rural area, due to the natural screening afforded by the surrounding woodland, and the tree protection and retention measure proposed, which will be enhanced through a landscaping scheme.”
Cold Ash Parish Council raised no objections to the plans, saying that the application “could have been worse”.
The Sun in the Wood was put on the market for £750,000 by brewer Wadworth & Co in July 2018, but no offers were received.
An offer for £400,000 was then rejected following a switch to an offers-invited approach.
A viability assessment said that business at the pub was in decline, with losses increasing from £153,390 in 2017 to £228,547 in 2018.
Barrelage fell from 49 in 2017 to 27 in 2018, a 45-per-cent reduction.
The appraisal said that a capital spend of around £420,000 would be needed to get the pub up and running again.
However, once costs were factored in the pub would make little profit and would be a high-risk investment, according to the report.