High Court backs conversion of Evelyn Waugh pub into new homes

A High Court judge has rejected a legal challenge against a council's decision to grant planning permission for the conversion of a pub into a house and 24 flats, dismissing claims that members had misinterpreted a local planning policy aiming to protect community facilities.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

The Fair View Inn, at Llandulas, in Conwy, North Wales, was once frequented by novelist Evelyn Waugh and became the model for "Mrs Robert's Pub" in his 1928 comic novel "Decline and Fall".

But the pub, which opened in 1861, closed its doors recently and was bought by a social housing provider in 2017.

Cartefi Conwy Cyfynedig wants to turn the pub into a four-bedroom house and to build 24 one and two- bedroom flats in its grounds.

Despite local opposition, Conwy County Borough Council granted planning permission for the development in March last year.

But campaigner, Patricia Thompson, a member of the "Passionate about Llandulas" pressure group, challenged the permission at the High Court.

Pointing out that the village would be left with just one pub, the Valentine, she claimed the council broke its own policy to protect community facilities.

Planning permission should not have been granted without a full assessment of whether it would be economically viable to re-open the Fair View Inn.

Thompson also claimed the development would put pressure on class sizes at the village school, which is already heavily oversubscribed.

Dismissing her judicial review challenge, however, Mr Justice Dove rejected arguments that councillors had misinterpreted the planning policy.

He recognised the importance of community facilities in small settlements to meet the needs of locals without them having to travel further afield.

But council lawyers pointed out that the village still has one surviving pub and is also equipped with a community hall and a Royal British Legion Club.

The purpose of the policy was to guard against the village being left with no pub at all, he said.

And councillors were not obliged to compare the facilities on offer at the Valentine against those lost when the Fair View Inn closed.

Turning to the education issue, the judge noted that the developer would pay about £17,000 towards the construction of a new school within the next five years.

Councillors had not been misled about the purpose to which that money would be put, the judge concluded, upholding the planning permission.

Earlier this week, a High Court judge overturned a consent for a London homeowner's roof terrace after concluding that a planning officer's report on the application failed to have regard to the impact on a neighbour of "significant and disturbing vibrations" arising from the development.

Last week, Leeds City Council lost a High Court fight against a planning inspector's approval of a 55-home development on a site it designated as a protected area of search (PAS) after a judge ruled that there was "no fault" in the inspector's reasoning.

R on the Application of Thompson v Conwy County Borough Council. Case Number: CO/1697/2018

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