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Winterbourne in revolt over pub plans

Villagers submit more than 70 objections to latest proposals

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters


07964 444701

Winterbourne in revolt over pub plans

The latest plans to convert the Winterbourne Arms pub has attracted objections from more than 70 villagers.

Owner Nicholas Roffe submitted an application to West Berkshire Council at the end of August to convert the premises into two dwellings.

An earlier bid to convert the pub failed in January when the Planning Inspectorate ruled against Mr Roffe.

This was regarded as a victory by those Winterbourne villagers who had always opposed the loss of the pub.

Mr Roffe acquired the Winterbourne Arms in 2018 and the previous owner had promised that it would reopen.

In an effort to placate local people, the owner has now made provision for a smaller pub on the site, adjacent to new houses, marking a change from previous applications which envisaged a purely residential development.

Despite the concession, almost 80 villagers have lodged their objections to the scheme.

Among those protesting the plans is Winterbourne Parish Council chairwoman Jill Hoblin, an organiser of the Save The Winterbourne Arms campaign.

Mrs Hoblin said "At no point during the preparation or submission of the planning application did the applicant reach out to share his plans with Winterbourne Parish.

"Bearing in mind the strength of feeling of the parish, the significant support that we had, both locally and from further afield, the active social media campaign we ran for the previous change of use application, we find this disappointing.

"Creating a tiny drinking pub for local use is not a serious attempt to maintain an idyllic well-appointed pub in the heart of our village. It raises suspicions about the true motives of the applicant."

Many villagers question the developer's motives, alleging that the pub will simply be converted into another dwelling if and when the business fails.

Simon Fraser said: "The revised plans are ridiculous from the perspective of over-development and creating a micro-pub that is most likely to be unviable.

"One might suspect this is a deliberate ploy to enable a further conversion.

"The size of the proposed micro-pub is not big enough to facilitate a village meeting – which the current one could – or accommodate a coach-ful of pre-theatre diners or race-goers, as happened previously.

"The reduction in parking spaces is unviable and will cause congestion and an increased risk of accidents in the village.

"There is already insufficient parking in the village and the road is too narrow to safely facilitate on-street parking without blocking the road, especially for large vehicles."

Jack Diamond states: "The present plans greatly increase the living accommodation and the potential value of the site by sucking the life and potential of the pub, by decreasing its size by over 40 per cent.

"We all acknowledge that village pubs, as pure drinking establishments, are no longer viable.

"This is an attempt to create a pub which will fail as a business within a year.

"After that, there will be a new planning application to join the pub area with the four-bedroomed apartment.

"This does not address the needs of the population of Winterbourne to have a central site for village events and interaction."

The full application – including all objection letters – can be found here.

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Article comments

  • Klaus

    29/09/2020 - 11:25

    Good to see the level of understanding from the those commenting ( other than Art ) is Current pub has plenty of parking the development would take away that parking, thus creating an issue which isn't a problem now. The previous landLADY made a huge success of the place, but had to retire. It isn't a case of use it or lose it...


  • Art E Ficial

    28/09/2020 - 16:27

    Not if the property developer who bought it has never had any intent of running it as a pub. He's already had an application & appeal refused on the basis that his view on viability is not accepted(backed up by expert evidence that it is viable. He needs to be held to account and open it or sell it.


  • brunin the bear

    28/09/2020 - 14:50

    If it was viable it would be open.


  • Art E Ficial

    27/09/2020 - 17:43

    Seems a lot of comments on here from people who have no knowledge of the background to this... the pub was open, landlord suffered ill health resulting in closure & sale. Pub was & is viable but the new owner has never tested that & failed in the previous application after relying on his opinion of viability having not undertaken appropriate due diligence at purchase. Having had the application refused and lost the appeal he’s now trying to appease the village & planners by including a token pub that’s doomed to fail ... hey presto, a new application to covert his failed micro pub into more unwanted property. The applicant is nothing but a property developer masquerading as a publican.. Nick Roffe, open the pub as you have been told to by the planning department or sell it to someone who will. If you want to play property developer, try it with your local & not ours


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