The listed building was one of two vacant pubs in the heart of the village, with two other operational pubs located in the wider village, only one of which offered food in the evening. The inspector considered that although Asset of Community Value status had been lifted in 2019, a pub in this location, particularly one that served food, provided an important community facility that reduced the need to travel elsewhere within the village and further afield.
Both the appellant and the council had commissioned viability reports which concluded that the use of the property as a pub was not viable. The inspector, however, found these reports were not sufficiently tailored to local circumstances as they did not consider a business model offering high-quality evening food and did not take into account the large amount of housing growth planned for the village in an emerging local plan. The inspector was also not persuaded by the marketing evidence that all reasonable steps had been taken to secure a successful sale or lease of the property as a pub, noting that the listed building was in a good state of repair and not in danger of deterioration if left vacant for a longer period.
In conclusion, placing great weight on the loss of the pub and great weight on the harm to the character of the conservation area from the change of use away from a social focus, the inspector dismissed the appeal.
Inspector: O Woodwards; Written representations