Landlord confirms hope to build houses on pub site to fund refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 11:54 04 October 2018

Residents turned out in force to show their support for the Save the Railway Arms Pub campaign in May, 2017.

Residents turned out in force to show their support for the Save the Railway Arms Pub campaign in May, 2017.

Archant

The owners of the Railway Arms pub in Saffron Walden, which closed in January 2017, have confirmed plans to build two houses on the site to help fund the redevelopment of the pub.

A brochure for prospective tenants of the Railway Arms shows two houses on the site. Picture: CHARLES WELLSA brochure for prospective tenants of the Railway Arms shows two houses on the site. Picture: CHARLES WELLS

Brewer Charles Wells has put in a planning application to reconfigure the site to allow space for the houses in the garden.

In a brochure posted on their website, advertising for prospective tenants for the pub, there are plans that show two new dwellings in the current pub garden and the firm has confirmed it hopes to develop part of the site.

Chairman of campaign group Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP), Dave Kenny, last week voiced his concerns that newly submitted plans to build a new toilet block were effectively a way of building a boundary to the existing pub garden and suggested that something a little more ‘sinister’ was afoot.

He said: “Although this first set of plans submitted by Charles Wells do not mention or even illustrate the pub garden, it was always our fear that the plans were gearing up to a future development proposal and application.

“Now we have concrete evidence that this is the case. Although the current application to UDC can only be considered by the planners on its own terms, there is no doubt that local residents and pub goers alike will be interested in these plans.”

Last Sunday STRAP hosted a ‘drop by session’ at the pub to examine the plans.

“The current application has omissions and inaccuracies in the drawings of the existing site and the plans for the complex as a whole,” Dave said.

“The drawings submitted imply an existing hard boundary between the pub’s main building and the beer garden which does not exist and the area shown as the beer garden is, in fact, the pub’s car park.

“These inaccuracies mask the fact that the owners are proposing to turn the car park into a courtyard garden and that customers will have to park elsewhere.

“Clearly the loss of the garden, a crucial part of the Asset of Community Value which is due to be included as green open space in the forthcoming neighbourhood plan is more than a technicality.

“It would be a huge loss for the community and the two houses would irreversibly reduce the facilities on offer at the pub.”

Charles Wells said it hopes to develop the area to the side of the pub, where the brochure shows two new houses, to help fund the redevelopment of the site and allow them to spend more to give the pub a “real wow factor”.

A spokesman for the company said: “We are proud that The Railway is a local community pub and is close to the hearts of many in the neighbourhood.

“Charles Wells is looking to invest a significant sum to breathe life back into the pub and build on its strong heritage in Saffron Walden, helping bring it back into the centre of the community once again.

“As part of this development, the intention is to turn the yard into a fabulous courtyard to encourage families and friends to wander down there and enjoy this outside space.

“We have always been open and honest about our intentions for the pub. As part of our ongoing communication about the regeneration, we disclosed our plans to the chairman of STRAP, Dave Kenny, when we met earlier this year.

“This included our hope to develop the area to the side to help fund the development and allow us to spend even more to give the pub a real wow factor.

“Of course this is subject to the planning committee’s approval but we hope they will understand what we are trying to achieve and support our vision.

“We have no plans to undermine the integrity of the building and the investment that the two properties provide will create a vibrant venue for the community once again.”

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