Friday, 23 April 2021

Agreement to protect rural pubs

Pub ‘re-opens’ days before court hearing

A MOTION to protect village pubs across South Oxfordshire has been approved.

Peter Dragonetti, who represents Whitchurch on the district council, put forward the motion in support of a campaign to revive the former White Lion at Crays Pond, which has been closed for eight years.

The motion said the council’s planning officers should use all legal powers to protect pubs, whether or not they are officially designated as assets of community value.

Councillor Dragonetti hopes this will make it easier for villagers to obtain a compulsory purchase order on the White Lion, which was made a community asset some months ago, if owner Satwinder Sandhu won’t sell or relet it.

The pub has been closed since 2013 and Mr Sandhu was occupying it without planning consent until 2019, when he was forced out by a High Court order, leaving it vacant.

The motion could also help have the Greyhound at Whitchurch listed as a community asset before it is sold by Punch Taverns.

The parish council has sought this previously but was turned down because there is another pub nearby.

Cllr Dragonetti said: “It's very good news that the motion was carried and now it's just a case of ensuring it's put into effect.

“I've already approached the cabinet member for planning to find out more on the criteria for a compulsory purchase should it be needed. It will be helpful to understand the process and what difficulties we might encounter along the way.”

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