Developer wins appeal to build flats in garden of Knebworth’s Station pub

The Station pub in Knebworth

The Station pub in Knebworth - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting against a proposed housing development to preserve the future of a village pub have lost their battle.

The Planning Inspectorate has upheld an appeal by developer Market Homes against North Herts District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for flats to be built in the pub garden of The Station in Knebworth.

Market Homes now has the green light to erect a three-storey building to provide nine two-bed flats, and convert an existing store into a one-bed house.

The developer insists the plans include reopening the pub on Station Approach, which has been closed since February 2017, but campaign group Save Our Station Pub is concerned the close proximity of the development would make this unviable.

North Herts District Council refused the application last May on grounds which included poor design and layout.

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On Thursday, a planning inspector concluded that Market Homes’ appeal would be upheld. The decision follows a four-day public inquiry held in December. The planning inspector said there was “no credible evidence” to suggest the loss of the garden “would prejudice the long-term retention and viability of the pub”.

The report says: “The English climate is not one known to be particularly conducive to the use of a pub garden for large parts of the year, and even in the summer the weather is inherently unpredictable.”

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While the planning inspector conceded the loss of the open green space was “unfortunate, perhaps more so given the scarcity of such land in the vicinity,” he said “neither the council nor community has sought to recognise its status by formally registering the land as a Local Green Space”.

A 50-cover patio to the rear is proposed to offset the loss of the garden.

As for the appearance of the new development, the planning inspector said: “There would be some limited harm to the character and appearance of the area. However, the council accepts that greenfield sites have to be forfeit to meet its housing targets.”

Campaigner Susan Lloyd has described the decision as “devastating news”. She said: “It is obviously very disappointing and not the outcome we were hoping for.

“The SOSPub campaign group are currently discussing our options.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support up to this point.” As part of the decision, the planning inspector has imposed the condition that the ground floor of The Station must be used as a pub and for no other purpose.

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