Bid to turn Weston pub into home is rejected

A VILLAGE is celebrating after learning that a historic pub will not be turned into a home.

An application to convert the Red Lion Pub in Weston into a house was rejected by North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) planning control committee after councillors felt the pub was not a viable as business.

Owner, Mark Shadbolt bought the 17th century pub on Damask Green Road in May following a decline in trade.

At the time of sale, owners Greene King said the pub had become unviable as a business and could not continue to operate with only a small number of customers using it.

Weston Parish Council tried to put a group together to buy the Grade II-listed pub but was told by Greene King they were too late in their bid.

Objector John Walter of Fore Street in Weston said: “The villagers have not been given a fair chance in the Red Lion’s fate.

“We will now reconvene the people who are interested in putting together a business plan to take over the pub.”

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Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, Mr Shadbolt said he purchased the pub for his young family and added the pub was in need of significant spending.

Cllr Tom Brindley, North Herts District Council’s portfolio holder for planning and enterprise said: “National guidelines suggest that local authorities should promote the retention of local facilities in villages, and public houses are specifically referred to in those guidelines.

“There were also issues relating to the application that conflicted with our Sustainable Communities Strategy. In addition, it was felt that the applicant had provided insufficient evidence that a viable business could not be sustained from the premises.”

Cllr Steve Jarvis, who represents Weston and Standon, said: “I’m very pleased the application has been rejected because although the pub hasn’t been very successful, Weston is the sort of place that if done in the right way it could work.

“It’s sad the people of Weston were not given the opportunity to carry through the business plan and hopefully the owner will enter into discussion with the village group to discuss it.”

The planning application had one letter of support and 23 letters of objections. Weston village is now left with one remaining pub, The Cricketers.