The property had not operated as a pub since the appellant acquired it in 2012 and works to convert the building to residential premises were the subject of an enforcement investigation by the council. A previous appeal for change of use to a dwelling had been dismissed after an inspector judged loss of the public house as a community facility was unacceptable and that a village hall did not offer a suitable alternative. The property had been registered as a community asset and the inspector noted that although the site was not currently in use as a public house, this was its lawful use as any conversion to residential did not have the benefit of planning permission.
Assessing the proposal against local and national policies, the inspector found no alternative appropriate facility as the village hall had no catering facilities or licence and other pubs were some distance away, whereas evidence indicated the pub was valued and still required by the local community. It appeared to her that viability issues were more to do with the business model operated by the previous operator and she considered that with some further investment, there was no reason why the public house could not be viable in the future. She also decided any marketing had not been sufficiently robust and concluded overall that the proposed change of use would result in the loss of a valued community facility and compromise the provision of community facilities in the area.
Inspector: Martha Savage; Hearing