Campaigners trying to save village pub near Hitchin battle to win last-gasp victory

Save The Windmill pub campaigners.

Save The Windmill pub campaigners. - Credit: Archant

Pub campaigners have taken a wartime slogan to heart as they battle to win a last-gasp victory.

It was the proud boast of London’s saucy Windmill Theatre that it never closed during the long years of wartime, defying the Blitz to stage performances every night.

But the same can’t be said of the popular Windmill pub in Charlton, which has had a succession of landlords in recent years before shutting its doors in June.

Now planners at North Herts District Council have received an application to turn the riverside pub into housing, and some building work has already been done on the site – just across the road from the birthplace of industrial pioneer Henry Bessemer.

But a community campaign is under way to save the pub – a popular spot for walkers – which has already been sold off by the Charles Wells brewery and pub chain.

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The Save The Windmill group has been formed to help raise awareness about the issue and to try and get it serving pints again.

Group member Phil Jarvis, who lives in the village, told the Comet: “We’re very concerned The Windmill is being turned from a pub into housing.

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“Charlton has been defined by the Green Belt and The Windmill is the only community facility we have in the village. A lot of people would be upset if we were to lose this vital hub.

“It’s our one and only village pub. It isn’t a just a pub for people in Charlton, many people from Hitchin used it, too – walkers, families or simply people who liked visiting a lovely pub.

“People in Hitchin regarded it as their ‘lovely pub by the river’ and would come out in their droves on sunny days.

“The Charlton Society produced a survey for people in the village asking them their views on the future – and more than 80 per cent stated they wanted to keep it as a pub.

“I don’t understand why previous owners Charles Wells didn’t sell the pub on the open market?

“People are willing to fight to keep this pub. It’ll change the whole dynamic of the village if it’s lost, and we’d like as many people as possible to support us.

“Work has already started on it, including a porch. What are North Herts District Council doing about it?

“If residents in Charlton decided to alter their houses without planning permission being granted the district council would be all over us – why then has work been allowed to start without the planning application being approved on the site of The Windmill?”

Councillor David Levett, who holds the planning brief at the district council, said: “We’ve received a retrospective planning application from the owners of the pub in Charlton and the council has requested additional information in order for it to become a valid application.

“A number of residents have already made comments to planning officers and we will notify them once the application has been registered.”

Pub protection officer Malcolm Chapman of the North Herts branch of pubs and real ale pressure group Camra said: “People are angry about potentially losing The Windmill.

“It’s in an idyllic spot which should be shared. We don’t want to lose another pub.

“Britain is a nation of people who don’t talk to their neighbours, but pubs are where communities come together.

“This commercial vandalism has got to stop.”

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