Skeeby pub conversion planning appeal fails

The Traveller's Rest in Skeeby.

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The owner of the Travellers Rest pub in Skeeby has lost an appeal to turn the building into a house.

A planning inspector has ruled that granting planning permission to owner Jon Whitfield, from Euro Property Management, for the conversion would result in the loss of a viable community facility.

Mr Whitfield applied to convert the building into a house in 2015.

However, the application was rejected by Richmondshire District Council.

It ruled that the Travellers Rest was the only public house in Skeeby and while it had been closed since 2008, there was “strong evidence” to demonstrate that the pub was still wanted by the community.

The premises were formally registered as an Asset of Community Value in October 2015.

 

The hearing, which took place in March, heard a significant number of local residents felt “very strongly” about the potential loss of what is the only public house in the village.

The report stated that resistance to its loss was expressed in many letters of objections to the first application by the appellant for the change of use of the property to a dwelling in 2010, and this led to this application being withdrawn.

In response to this public concern the Skeeby Community Pub Society (SCPS) was formed, with the aim of preventing the loss of the public house in the village by seeking to purchase and run a community owned public house, as has been done in some other villages in the area.

Planning inspector Alison Partington said in her report: “The strength of local feeling about the potential loss of the public house has continued despite the 7 years that have elapsed since the appellant bought the property.

“Moreover, this has been shown not only in objections to this current application for a change of use, but in significant numbers of financial pledges to enable SCPS to be able to put in offers to purchase the building. As a result, I consider that there is local demand for a public house within the village.”

The hearing heard that villagers had offered £150,000 for the building in April last year but this was rejected, with applicants seeking at least £220,000, or £195,000 with a clawback.

“Both these figures are higher than the previous asking price of £175,000, and the valuations. As such, I am not persuaded that the premises is genuinely being marketed at a realistic price,” said the inspector.

Art the hearing, the applicant questioned whether SCPS had the ability to purchase the building as no proof of funds had been provided.

The inspector said: “SCPS are confident that if an offer was accepted they would be able to raise significantly more than is already pledged, as well as attracting grant funding.

“As this is assumption based on the experience of other similar community groups, I consider that there is a reasonable prospect of them being able to raise sufficient funds should an offer be accepted.”

The planning inspector concluded: “Notwithstanding that fact that I consider the proposal would be capable of preserving the setting of the nearby listed buildings, and the character and appearance of Skeeby Conservation Area, and would bring a currently vacant building back into use, it would still result in the loss of a viable community facility, contrary to both local and national policies.

“For this reason, I conclude the appeal should be dismissed.”