The pub lay in a built-up area outside the designated primary and secondary shopping frontages. The inspector was told that there were at least eight pubs and similar establishments in the town centre within easy and safe walking distance. Nothing in the evidence showed an unmet demand or suggested that the remaining pubs would be insufficient to maintain the evening economy, he found.
The council contended that other pubs in the area did not constitute alternative facilities because they did not reflect the appeal premises' unique character. The inspector accepted that local planning policy emphasised the need for a diversity of uses in the town centre, but held that seeking to retain different types of pub went beyond reasonable planning control. Dismissing the appeal would not ensure that future publicans would continue to run a brewery, maintain the garden to its current high standard or sell particular brands of ale, he reasoned.
He concluded that the development would not harm the vitality or viability of the town centre. He accepted that renovation through conversion would benefit the property and did not consider that it would harm the conservation area. However, he found that conflict between vehicles entering and leaving the site through a narrow archway would jeopardise highway safety and refused the scheme solely on this basis.
DCS Number 100-058-344
Inspector Jeremy Sargent; Hearing.