Monday, 11 December 2017

Businessman can't make pub his home

A BUSINESSMAN has been ordered to stop using a village pub as his home.

A BUSINESSMAN has been ordered to stop using a village pub as his home.

Satwinder Sandhu lost his fight for retrospective planning permission to live at the former White Lion in Crays Pond following an appeal.

He bought the pub from Greene King after it closed in 2013 and began converting the premises into a family home shortly afterwards.

South Oxfordshire District Council told him to apply for planning permission, which it then refused to grant. It then issued an enforcement notice, giving Mr Sandhu 12 months to move out, but he appealed.

Now planning inspector Jeremy Sargent has rejected his appeal following a hearing in Crowmarsh Gifford earlier this year.

He said the loss of the pub would ?reduce the opportunity for social cohesion? in Crays Pond by removing a meeting place. He said it was an ?essential community facility? and that there were no suitable alternatives in the village.

Mr Sandhu had argued that there were other pubs in Whitchurch Hill, Woodcote, Whitchurch and Goring.

But Mr Sargent said these had to be reached by car and were not an acceptable substitute for a pub within walking distance.

He said: ?Once residents accept they have to drive to a pub, they may not bother due to drink-drive legislation or lack of access to a vehicle.

?They may spread themselves between the three pubs identified by the appellant or may decide to travel further afield.

?As a result, the social cohesion created by [the White Lion] for residents would be very much diminished.? Mr Sargent said the White Lion was well-located on a crossroads and could draw passing trade if it served food.

He believed the business could be successful as it had thrived when the Pierrepont family, from Goring, had run the pub.

Mr Sandhu pointed out that after the Pierreponts left in 2008, the business had floundered under a succession of landlords.

He said he had planned to convert the pub into an Indian restaurant but decided this was unworkable. He then commissioned a study which concluded it was not viable as a pub.

Mr Sandhu stripped out the kitchen, two bars and the ladies? lavatory and moved in with his family.

Mr Sargent said: ?Poor accounts do not necessarily indicate that the public house was unviable but rather might just show it was not well managed.

?Personal circumstances, the financial strength of the landlords or indeed their skills and expertise could all have played a part. No sound reason has been offered to explain the variation between the Pierreponts? success and the conclusions of Mr Sandhu?s report.

?The closure of the White Lion runs contrary to the aims of sustainability... it increases reliance on the car as people travel further to find a public house and it diminishes the services that can be accessed by those with limited transport options.?

The pub is now an asset of community value, so if Mr Sandhu sells it he can only accept offers from the community for the first six months, although he is not obliged to do so.

Fiona O?Brien, who a campaign to save the pub, said: ?We?re absolutely over the moon. It?s not going to bring the pub back straight away but at least the site can?t be redeveloped.?

Mr Sandhu said: ?We are going to continue discussion with the council with the aim of resolving the viability issue since we?ve had no offers for the premises.?

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