Pub demolition plans refused by North Somerset Council - but developer plans appeal

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 May 2019

Campaigners celebrating planning permission being refused for Lord Nelson at Cleeve to be turned into petrol station.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Campaigners celebrating planning permission being refused for Lord Nelson at Cleeve to be turned into petrol station. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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Champagne corks were sent flying after plans which would have 'spoiled' a village by demolishing its former pub have been torn up.

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

North Somerset Council has refused Tout Ltd planning permission to raze Cleeve's Lord Nelson and replace it with a petrol station, convenience store and pub café after reviewing the controversial blueprints for more than a year. The authority deemed the proposals 'incompatible' with ecology policies, and said Tout failed to justify the loss of a 'local heritage asset'.

The Friends Nelson Group (FNG), which was set up to fight the demolition, celebrated the decision with champagne on Pound Green opposite the decaying pub on Saturday.

The boarded-up pub closed in late 2016 before being swiftly snapped up by Tout - which runs Budgens stores in Nailsea and Langford.

The plans, which were submitted to the council 16 months ago, were met with widespread concern by villagers who feared the loss of their pub and the development's impact on the environment, traffic and neighbours.

Ian Fergusson, spokesman for the Friends Nelson Group.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONIan Fergusson, spokesman for the Friends Nelson Group. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

A hard-fought campaign by the FNG saw the building listed as a 'local heritage asset' and has helped stave off the bulldozers - for now.

In March, managing director Jon Tout revealed the business had all but given up hope of convincing the council - arguing the plans would only get a 'fair hearing' at a Government inquiry.

This week, he reiterated his intention to appeal the decision.

He told the Times: "It's extraordinary we have had to initiate the refusal process in order to finally get the application in front of an independent planning inspector. We have begun preparing the evidence we will submit at the appeal."

But Ian Fergusson, FNG spokesman, urged Tout to return to the drawing board.

He said: "We are relieved at the council's decision. We continue to hope for a proposal that sensitively conserves and re-uses the building to create a valued multi-use community hub, including a pub.

"We genuinely hope the owner adopts this approach, which would garner considerable local support.

"The decision recognises the proposal would have spoiled our village setting and threatened protected wildlife.

"Building a new fuel station in a small greenbelt village - by jointly wrecking a heritage asset and impacting a special conservation area for bats - was a clearly unsustainable proposition, one totally at odds with environmental priorities of 2019 and beyond.

"The pub was quickly sold to attract developers. There was no effort to prioritise its survival as a going concern, despite some publicans expressing interest.

"A subsequent offer from within our village to buy the pub at full original asking price was refused.

"The survival of pubs and their irreplaceable heritage deserves better than this buccaneering approach by developers.

"They claim every pub they grab as 'unviable' to justify wiping them off the map. This tactic is a nationwide scourge and our village was determined to take a stand against it."

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