Thursday, 14 December 2017

Councillors split over listed pub conversion

COUNCILLORS have supported plans to turn a historic Henley pub into a five-bedroom house.

COUNCILLORS have supported plans to turn a historic Henley pub into a five-bedroom house.

The Horse and Groom in New Street has been used as a pub since the late 19th century but the last landlord Alan Woolgar left in August to run the neighbouring Rose and Crown.

Now owner Paul Woods has submitted plans to South Oxfordshire District Council to convert the Grade II listed building into a house with bedrooms on the upper two floors.

The old bar fixtures would be removed from the ground floor, which would house two living rooms and a study.

Mr Woods, who lives in New Street, also want to demolish a Sixties outbuilding at the back of the pub and replace it with a single-storey extension housing a kitchen, dining room and utility room.

Speaking at a meeting of the town council’s planning committee, Councillor Martin Akehurst said the application made his “heart bleed”.

“I’m uncomfortable because it’s a listed building and a listed pub,” he said. “It’s part of the character of Henley and I couldn’t support a change of use.”

Councillor David Clenshaw said: “This would be a great loss to Henley and efforts ought to be made to keep the property as a pub.”

But Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said a business had to be viable to remain open. Councillor Kellie Gehrmann said: “You can’t force people to go drinking in these pubs.”

The committee agreed to recommend to South Oxfordshire District Council that the application is approved by five votes to two with one abstention.

Meanwhile, Cllr Akehurst criticised a retrospective planning application for work carried out at the Bull pub in Bell Street, which is also Grade II listed. The work included installing wall and ceiling panelling, timber treatment, decorative finishes and plastering.

Cllr Akehurst said that Brakspear, which owns the pub, was “perfectly well aware of the terms and conditions of unauthorised changes to a listed building” and added: “Trying to get retrospective planning permission is not correct.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said the work carried out was “stunning”.

The committee voted to recommend the application is refused.

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