Knebworth pub saved from housing developer after long-fought campaign
PUBLISHED: 08:30 26 September 2019
The future of a village pub has been secured following a two-and-a-half year campaign to save it from a housing developer.
The Station pub in Knebworth closed in February 2017 and was bought by a developer with plans for a block of flats right next to it.
The developer said the plans included reopening the pub on Station Approach, but campaign group Save Our Station Pub felt the close proximity of the development made it unviable.
North Herts District Council refused the planning application last May on grounds which included poor design and layout, but the Planning Inspectorate upheld an appeal and granted planning permission in January, despite opposition from SOSPUB.
The pub - with a garden for up to 50 covers - and land were put up for sale separately in March.
SOSPUB asked people to buy £50 shares to help raise the £595,000 asking price for the building, intending to create a non-profit community pub.
But now Knebworth Parish Council has had its bid to buy the pub accepted and proposes to let it to a commercial operator.
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The council applied to central government for a low interest long-term loan, intending the rent to pay off the loan.
A council spokesman said: "Following an overwhelming show of support from residents, we have been working on a bid to purchase The Station.
"We now have an offer agreed with the owner and are working to complete a transaction in the near future.
"We hope this will result in providing a more secure future for what is a valuable asset at the heart of our community.
"We would like to thank everyone for their support, in particular the SOSPUB group, who have been fundamental in generating support in the village for saving the pub, as well as raising funds to fight the prior planning application."
Campaigner Mark Folwell said: "We at SOSPUB set out to keep a pub in the village and, although we lost the garden, we have retained a pub and are very pleased the parish council has had its bid accepted.
"We are looking forward to it reopening and being the hub of the community."
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The council has previously said the pub purchase should not lead to a precept rate increase in council tax, unless a tenant cannot be found.