Pub vulnerable to housing development after lost status

The Gate pub, Saffron Walden. Picture: Saffron Photo.

The Gate pub, Saffron Walden. Picture: Saffron Photo. - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden Town Council has been unsuccessful in protecting a pub’s land from future housing development, a full council meeting has heard.

The town council initially nominated The Gate on Thaxted Road as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) to the planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

UDC listed the building as an ACV, but the owners of the building, Hawthorn Leisure, submitted an appeal to the district council, questioning the validity of the application. Following a review this month, it was decided that the asset should not be listed as an ACV.

However, an appeal against the ACV being scrapped is believed to be expensive, so, as it stands, the land is no longer protected from being sold for development.

Dave Kenny, chairman of Save The Railway Arms Pub campaign, told a town council meeting that whether the building can remain in the public realm will depend on the new owner, as The Gate is currently for sale.

Mr Kenny said: “The Gate was nominated as an ACV, but unfortunately that was appealed and that status has been revoked, so it’s no longer an ACV, but it’s up for sale, and we are hoping someone can buy it and run it as a pub.”

He added: “It was registered as an ACV and around two months ago, in March or April, it was appealed. If someone will want to run it as a pub, that is great, we wouldn’t want to see it turned into houses with a garden. The community would prefer to see the pubs remaining as pubs.

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“If there is an application to bring development on that plot, that would be a planning matter. They would still need planning permission from the district council and that is not easy as we have seen with the Railway.”

Mr Kenny also said that an appeal would be costly, and may follow, so the ACV status should be further considered.

He highlighted the fact that there was a suggestion in the appeal that the application was “disingenuous” because The Gate is a food venue.

“The owners listed that place as a restaurant and the application was overturned on these grounds, but it was not disingenuous. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy drinks and play games,” Mr Kenny said.

Deputy Mayor Richard Porch, who is also the chair of the town council’s planning committee, said: “I think we are disappointed, but the legal advice from UDC suggested that we cannot do anything about it. We just felt it would be exactly that [an asset of community value]. Unfortunately, many of our pubs and restaurants are being closed down for housing.”