Bid to secure ‘iconic’ pub’s future falls short
PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 October 2017
Villagers’ efforts to prevent an 80-year-old pub from being razed have been dented after a bid for listed building status failed.
Cleeve’s Lord Nelson pub, in Main Road, is facing demolition with developers planning to convert the 1930s site into a multi-use facility including a petrol station, convenience store, and pub café.
The former Hungry Horse pub was bought by Tout Ltd almost a year ago, and has been gathering dust ever since.
Tout Ltd presented its proposals earlier this year, prompting villagers to form a campaign against the development with the hope pints would again be poured at the Nelson in its current form.
And dialogue between the parties has since become heated, with disagreement over whether the demolition is necessary, leading the campaign to launch a bid to Historic England (HE) with the hope of earning the building listed status which would put paid to plans to bulldoze the watering hole.
Villagers argued the Lord Nelson’s storied history, which included it being used as a refuge for BBC stars like Jack Warner and Cyril Fletcher in World War Two, should mean the site is protected.
But HE has now revealed it will not be adding the pub to its register of protected buildings.
A spokesman said: “Having carefully considered an application to list the Lord Nelson, we found the building does not meet the strict criteria for listing. The Secretary of State agreed with our advice.
“The Lord Nelson is a purpose-built pub built between 1934-1936. Its design was shaped by the ‘improved pub’ movement that followed World War One but it has undergone insensitive alterations over the years. There are some surviving original fittings, but they are of a standard design found in many pubs of this period.
“We considered the pub’s links during World War Two with servicemen and BBC staff and actors who either drank or stayed at the pub, and the use of its cellar as an air-raid shelter, but this was not enough to justify listing.”
Jon Tout, managing director of Tout Ltd, said HE’s verdict came as ‘a great relief’.
He added: “Since purchasing the site following its closure by Greene King, we have been the subject of a stream of negative accusations including claims that we have attempted to bribe local residents; that we have deliberately vandalised the site and even that our plans would put children’s lives at risk.
“The time has now come to provide local residents with a more detailed insight into our proposals and perhaps encourage a more constructive, objective dialogue.
“To that end we will shortly be sending information about our plans to every house in the village.”
The pub is still protected by asset of community value (ACV) status which was granted by North Somerset Council in January. The ACV means planning permission is required for Tout’s plans to be materialised, closing a loophole where pubs can be converted to shops without council consent.
Ian Fergusson, of the campaign to save the pub, said the ‘iconic’ building should still be preserved in some form despite HE’s decision.
He said: “Throughout all recent public narrative concerning the future of the Lord Nelson, I’ve been at pains to stress Cleeve villagers merely want Jon’s mixed use of the site – including a smaller viable pub – to be cleverly tied to preserving key local heritage.
“It’s important to stress that HE concluded its report ‘should not be seen to undermine the building’s interest from a more local perspective. The Lord Nelson has clear local interest’.
“We continue to hope that as a local firm, Tout Ltd has it in its heart to propose a scheme that retains part of the iconic building, such as the frontage which could house the smaller pub-café, whilst converting the rest.
“That is not an unreasonable balance to seek. The notion of a 24-hour fuel station as part of the plan is unlikely, however, to garner favour among the majority of residents.”