Village does not want pub to call time
RESIDENTS have re-launched a campaign to save their village pub after the owners submitted a fresh application to turn it into a home.The move has sparked outcry among some members of the Otley community and now a group of residents are looking at forming a consortium to buy the White Hart between them.
RESIDENTS have re-launched a campaign to save their village pub after the owners submitted a fresh application to turn it into a home.
The move has sparked outcry among some members of the Otley community and now a group of residents are looking at forming a consortium to buy the White Hart between them.
The planning application has been submitted by Melvyn and Christine Brown, who say the pub, which has been closed since last summer, is no longer viable as a business.
And Suffolk Coastal District Council officers have recommended that councillors on the north area development control sub-committee approve planning permission at their meeting on March 29.
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But Tony Barrett, who has lived in Otley for 25 years, defended the commercial viability of the pub, saying it could once again be a thriving “centre of the village”.
“Otley being one of the bigger villages in the area should be able to sustain a good pub,” he added.
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“They will deprive the village forever of a pub if this goes ahead and make money from turning it into a house and potential development site. People are very angry.”
He said the consortium would expect the costs of taking on the pub, which has a flat above and a restaurant, to be more than £375,000 but added they had only informally discussed the idea so far.
Flyers have been placed in the village shop to tell people about the plans for the pub, which is the only one in Otley.
Malcolm Smith, parish council chairman, said: “From the parish council's view we do not want to lose the facility of the pub. The application is to change it into a dwelling. We are fighting tooth and nail to stop it turning into a dwelling.”
The planning report said there are six pubs within 7km of the White Hart but they compete for trade from 1,579 people in Otley and the surrounding villages.
It says it is situated around 900 metres from the centre of Otley, with no footpaths connecting it to the village, deterring potential customers from walking to it in the dark or bad weather.
It does not have an old world charm like nearby pubs, and, despite being near to the A1120 tourist route, there are no special visitor attractions in the village to attract trade in, the report says.
Public transport links are poor and the owners said their attempts at diversifying into the holiday home market have failed because the income from the pub is insufficient to cover the costs of the project.
Despite good food reviews, they have also been unable to sustain the 34-cover restaurant and the report says the pub's financial statement for last year supports the claim that the pub is not viable.
Mr Brown said: “From what I understand, it's going up before the committee. They are the people that count. They will make a decision based on their professional opinion.”
It is the second time a row has erupted over the pub. The original application last August was rejected as the committee was not satisfied that the use of the property as a pub was no longer viable.