Maintaining community facilities in small settlements is obviously important, but that must sometimes take second place to the pressing need for affordable homes. In a case on point, the High Court opened the way for a village pub once frequented by the novelist Evelyn Waugh to be developed for housing.
Waugh, who taught at a prep school in the area, used the 158-year-old village pub as a model for a hostelry featured in his 1928 comic novel ‘Decline and Fall’. Following its closure, however, the pub had been purchased by a social housing provider who had been granted planning consent to convert it into a four-bedroom house and to construct 24 affordable flats in its grounds.
In challenging the permission, a local campaigner pointed out that the village would be left with only one pub. She argued that the development should not have been approved without a full assessment of whether it would be economically viable for the pub to reopen.
In dismissing her complaints, however, the Court rejected arguments that councillors had misinterpreted a local planning policy which was designed to protect community facilities in rural areas. The purpose of that policy was to guard against the village being left with no pub at all. The community would still be served by one pub, together with a village hall and a Royal British Legion Club.
The campaigner also argued that the development would put pressure on class sizes at the village school, which was already oversubscribed. The Court, however, noted that the developer would be required to pay about £17,000 towards the construction of a new school within five years. Councillors had not been misled about the purpose to which that money would be put. The planning permission was upheld.