Heritage experts not sold on plan to demolish village pub

The Lord Nelson and it's massive fence at Cleeve.

The Lord Nelson and it's massive fence at Cleeve. - Credit: Archant

Villagers hoping to save a pub from demolition have received some good news after council experts raised concerns over the proposals.

North Somerset Council’s heritage officers appear unconvinced by Tout Ltd’s plans to flatten the Lord Nelson in Cleeve’s Main Road, which has been closed for almost two years and is boarded up.

Tout Ltd wants to replace the former Hungry Horse eatery, in Main Road, with a multi-use development which would include a 24-hour petrol station, shop, pub café, hair salon and offices.

Many villagers have been angered by the drawn-out saga, airing fears of a loss of heritage, traffic issues and pollution.

But Tout Ltd believes it will add valuable services and job opportunities to the area, and the Lord Nelson building is not viable for use as a large pub restaurant.

An artist's impression of Tout Ltd's plans for the Lord Nelson. Picture: Tout Ltd

An artist's impression of Tout Ltd's plans for the Lord Nelson. Picture: Tout Ltd - Credit: Archant

Campaigners failed in a bid to get the watering hole listed as a heritage asset by Historic England amid tales of its cellar being used as a bunker by celebrities in World War Two came to light, but it confirmed the building holds ‘clear local interest’.

A report penned by Tout Ltd’s planning consultants Copesticks Ltd in September, however, argued the demolition should not be hindered by the pub’s history.

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It said: “The building is not preserved in a form which directly illustrates its historic and cultural associations. It may be interesting local history, but the building itself does not tell the story and its preservation and the consequent sterilisation of a development site would not be justified by this low level of local interest.”

But the council’s heritage officers disagree, arguing the loss of the Lord Nelson’s heritage ‘needs to be given significant weight’ by planning officers when deciding whether to grant planning permission.

A response to Copesticks’ report read: “There is little mention of the building’s local heritage value in term of its value in association with the tradition, especially along the A370, of 1930s road-side pubs.

“The asset also has evidence of both archival and historical association value; being related to the war effort.

“The building has also been shown to be of great communal value to the people of Cleeve. All these criteria need to be considered when assessing the building’s significance as a non-designated heritage asset.”