First new town pub threatened with demolition

AN HISTORIC pub could be reduced to rubble to make way for flats – sparking a fight back by a community who say it would rip the heart out of the area.

Developers have put in a planning application to build 11 two bedroom and three one bedroom flats in a three storey block with parking on the site of The Twin Foxes on Rockingham Way, Stevenage. The pub was the first to open in the new town, serving the Bedwell community since 1953.

The application was made by leaseholders J Young Investments to owners Stevenage Borough Council on July 19, although tenant Paul Gould and landlord Del Denham only found out last Wednesday, when official notices went up at the pub.

Only two weeks ago the pair celebrated a two-year tenancy on the pub, which was refurbished over the summer. Mr Gould stepped in to take on the tenancy after reading in the Comet that Mr Denham had been evicted with no notice by the previous tenants.

Mr Denham said the pub had only been open again for four days when they got the news, “and now we are fighting again to save the pub.”

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He added: “The only people who will gain from this are the council, the developers and the 11 families who will live here. There’s a lot of ill feeling about this.”

A petition to save the pub has been set up by Shirley Pike, who works in the Ocean Delight fish and chip shop next door. She has collected over 300 signatures from residents opposing the move and hopes to reach 1,000 before it is handed to the council.

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She said: “Everybody’s up in arms about it, especially the houses around the back. They will see straight into their back gardens from the windows opposite.

“People are outraged really. Nobody wants it to become flats. Elderly people go in the pub and play dominoes and crib and that’s their social life.

“It’s getting busy now – Del is good in there. I think it’s so sad.

“It’s a social hub for the area, where is the next nearest pub?”

Three of the four Bedwell ward councillors are on the planning and development committee which will decide whether or not to approve the planning application.

Cllr Brian Underwood said the application must be judged on its merits.

“It would be “a shame to lose if it goes, but we have to judge it on the day,” he said.

Fellow Bedwell councillor David Cullen declined to comment because of his role as chairman.

Cllr Liz Harrington and council leader Sharon Taylor were unavailable for comment.

The council planning department said a date to hear the application has yet to be decided, but it will probably be at the October meeting of the committee.

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