Saturday, 22 July 2017

Pub revival hopes fade

RESIDENTS of Fawley look set to lose their 14-year long fight to restore their village pub to its former glory.

An application to demolish the Walnut Tree in Roundhouse Lane and build a new pub in its place, along with four houses, will be considered by Wycombe District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

But planning officers are recommending that the plans are refused consent. Villagers first formed an action group after the pub closed in 2003 and there were plans to convert it into a house. The proposal was rejected by the council and on appeal but then the building fell into
disrepair.

The pub is now owned by a resident operating under the name the Walnut Tree
(Fawley) Ltd, who wants to include three letting rooms at the new property under plans drawn up by Henley
architects Spratley Studios. But the officers say the plans represent “overdevelopment” of the site.

They say: “The proposed development would fail to achieve a high standard of design and would neither respect nor reflect the local rural context by reason of its layout, scale, bulk and mass that would be out of keeping within this rural scene.

“The buildings would appear cramped and the site would be unduly dominated by hard surfacing and the provision of car parking and fails to incorporate adequate soft landscaping.”

The officers also claim the development would be detrimental to the prospective occupiers of the new houses.

They say: “The proximity of the new dwellings to the public house, their relationship to potential sources of noise nuisance in what is considered to be a tight layout, would be harmful to the quiet enjoyment of these residential properties.

“Moreover, the level of parking proposed [is not] adequate for the size of the development and, taking into account its unsustainable location and the reliance of the business to attract customers from outside the immediate locality, this is likely to result in displaced parking and conflict between occupiers of the dwellings and users of the public house.

“The level of parking is inadequate to meet standards, which is symptomatic of overdevelopment.”

Alfred Waller, co-chairman of the Save the Walnut Tree Action Group, said: “The cost was estimated at well over £2 million so some enabling development in the shape of a four-house terrace was required.

“Some two years ago a public meeting was convened to enable the village to see the plans before the planning application was submitted.

“The plans were unanimously approved by the meeting and when the planning application was submitted 18 months ago there were 80 letters of support and no objections.

“This was unprecedented from such a small village as Fawley but by the same token it indicated the village’s determination to restore the pub as a hub of the community.”

Chris Whitehead, Fawley's representative on the council, supports the application and requested that the decision be taken by the planning committee, of which he is a member, rather than officers.

Nick Sargent, who was chairman of the Fawley parish meeting, is proposing to take villagers to the meeting, which starts at 6.30pm, in his old bus.

Mr Waller said: “This may be our last chance to restore the Walnut Tree as our village pub. We therefore intend to pack the public gallery in the council chamber to indicate that the village is still fully in support of the plans.”

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