Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Villagers relieved at pub being saved from development

Villagers relieved at pub being saved from development

RESIDENTS of Shiplake are relieved that a village pub has been saved from redevelopment.

The Plowden Arms in Shiplake Cross has been bought by chefs Liam and Ryan Simpson-Trotman, who run the Orwells restaurant in Shiplake Row.

The pub has been closed since January 2019 and was the subject of planning application to turn it into eight homes, although permission was refused last year.

The Simpson-Trotmans intend to re-open the 17th century pub under its original name, the Plough, early next year.

Fred Maroudas, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted. If we were to lose the only pub in Shiplake Cross, it would have been a real blow to the community.

“They [Liam and Ryan] are truly local — they have made their lives here and I am delighted for them.

“I think the decision to go with the original name shows commitment to the history of the site. Liam and Ryan understand and respect that and I’m very much looking forward to having one of the first pints.”

The council tried twice to have the site listed as an asset of community value but was rejected by South Oxfordshire District Council, which said there was not enough evidence that it was being used widely by the community but also said the pub was “an essential community facility” and should not be lost to the village.

The parish council included the results of a public consultation in which 95 per cent of the 211 respondents said they wanted the pub and garden to remain.

Cllr Maroudas said: “The application was superb and we put in a huge amount of time and work. It absolutely demonstrated why the pub was a vital community asset.”

There is evidence that some of the timbers in the entrance porch of the building date back to the 1600s and that it was an ale house as far back as 1749. It is also believed that engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel visited the pub for the Henley branch line agreement in 1853.

Janet Matthews, chairwoman of the Shiplake and Binfield Heath Local History Group, opposed the plans to turn the site into housing.

She said: “People really need to get behind it and make it a success by going to eat and drink there. The village does have a very good pub in the Baskerville but it is nice to have an option at the other end, especially if you have gone for a walk.

“Maybe there needed to be a little bit of development on the land. It was the extent of that we took issue with — eight flats and altering the look of the place and the historic frontage.”

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