Pub plan is turned down by district council
PUBLISHED: 08:04 07 November 2019
An application for the redevelopment of the Railway Arms Pub in Saffron Walden has been refused by Uttlesford District Council.
The pub, which closed in January 2017, is owned by the Charles Wells brewery company and the firm had hoped to reconfigure the site under plans submitted in March.
Campaigners believed the reconfiguration plan was a forerunner to subsequent plans to build two houses on the site, in Station Road, but Charles Wells said the plans were intended to allow the pub to reopen as a viable business.
Representatives from Save the Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) campaign group said they attended the planning application meeting and heard the refusal decision for plans to reconfigure the pub interior and convert the car park into a garden.
Steve Langford, spokesman for STRAP, who lives in Saffron Walden, said: "STRAP want to see the pub maintained as a whole, including the existing beer garden.
It is the last grass pub beer garden left in Saffron Walden.
"I personally used the Railway from the first time I moved into Saffron Walden back in 2008. I was a regular there until its closure and even helped out behind the bar when it held its annual beer festival. Older users of the pub still speak with affection of when the pub was run by Jim Jordan for many years.
"It was felt by many people in Saffron Walden to be the best 'beer' pub in town - always featuring in Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Good Beer Guide and always serving six real ales.
"Let's hope a workable scheme can be found to return the Railway to the heart of its community."
The rejection could still be appealed by the pub owners.
In its decision note, the district council said: "The proposed development by reason of its nature, size, scale, design and siting, would obscure and lose important features resulting in unacceptable harm to the locally-listed building and would result in on-street parking to the detriment of pedestrian and highways safety."
Dave Kenny, chairman of STRAP, noted that issues were raised in more than 80 submissions by the public, by Saffron Walden Town Council and Essex County Council over the last year. A STRAP spokesman said Charles Wells had previously confirmed separate plans to develop the pub's garden into homes to fund the refurbishment works, though the rejected application made no mention of the plans.
STRAP has invited Charles Wells representatives at their next events, which are open to everyone. There will be a Pop-up Pub on Saturday, November 9 at Fairycroft House from 3pm and on Tuesday, November 12 at the Saffron Walden Community Pub annual general meeting at the Kings Arms, Market Hill from 7.30pm.