Village pub conversion rejected by council

The Drum & Monkey public house front

The Drum & Monkey, Kenn - Credit: Google

A 'harmful' bid to convert a pub near Clevedon into offices has been thrown out. 

More than 40 homeowners opposed plans for The Drum & Monkey, saying its loss would 'rob the village of Kenn of a valuable amenity' when the area already had enough empty offices. 

One person blamed the 'choke hold' brewery chain Punch Pubs and Co had on the Kenn Road pub for its worsening fortunes, suggesting it could thrive now it is 'freed from its shackles'. 

Another said: “With the right management I am sure it could be extremely successful, it is in the centre of the village with plenty of parking and many possibilities including maybe a micropub or coffee shop or community shop, all of which are lacking in the village.” 

Punch put the venue up for sale in August 2020 but interest was limited and agent Savills said it was not attractive enough proposition to continue as a pub and there were no bids from the community. 

Supporting the application, Savills said: “Public houses such as The Drum & Monkey have suffered more than others since the economic downturn of 2008 due to them not having the economies of scale to compete with the large managed house operations. 

“The property has a very small kitchen and a small car park but given the location of the pub it is unlikely to attract ‘destination custom’ and instead had to rely on the local population which has not supported the business sufficiently. 

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“There are better located venues with superior facilities within a close proximity.

“Even before Covid-19 restrictions, customers are increasingly staying at home to drink but going out to eat and the resulting level of decline is not unusual for this type of operation.”

Applicant Breathe Success Ltd – a Clevedon-based company that formed shortly before plans were submitted – was told it had not proven the need for offices on the edge of the village when there is a business park 500 metres away. 

Refusing permission, North Somerset Council’s planning officers said: “There is no evidence, other than the suggestion of a lack in outdoor space, submitted with this application to sufficiently demonstrate that the application site is not viably suitable as a public house or that it is not suitable for another community facility including a mixed use.”

They added: “The proposed change of use would result in the complete loss of a community facility where no acceptable alternatives have been provided, nor has it been demonstrated that the site is unsuitable as a public house or that it would be unsuitable for any other community facility.

“The harm caused by the development clearly and demonstrably outweighs the limited and unguaranteed benefit of the use of the site as offices, and as such the application should be refused.”

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