Knebworth pub set to reopen after three-year planning battle
PUBLISHED: 09:21 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:21 14 February 2020
A village pub will reopen its doors on Friday following a three-year campaign and lengthy planning battle 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 on grounds including poor design and layout, but the Planning Inspectorate upheld an appeal and granted planning permission, despite challenge from SOSPub.
When the pub - with a garden for up to 50 covers - and land were put up for sale separately in March last year, Knebworth Parish Council snapped up the former, after applying to central government for a low interest long-term loan. The separate land is still earmarked for flats.
The pub has been refurbished and is set to open on Friday - Valentine's Day - with local couple Lloyd and Becky Willis appointed to run it. The rent is intended to pay off the loan.
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A parish council spokesman said: "The Station is a prominent local landmark. It was built in 1883 to service the new railway, making it one of the oldest buildings in Knebworth.
"Lloyd and Becky both have many years' experience in the hospitality industry and are very much looking forward to bringing a quality pub offer to the village that we can all be proud of.
"It's taken longer than we expected to get to here, but we would like to thank everyone involved for enabling this next chapter in The Station's journey. A big thank you to the SOSPUB group for their enthusiasm, to the Knebworth Estate for their help, and to the working group who have brought this to fruition.
"We encourage everyone in the village to support this new and exciting local business."
Becky and Lloyd said: "We are so overwhelmed by the support and kind words since announcing taking over The Station.
"We have been working day and night over the last two weeks to get everything ready to open."
The Station will open at 6pm on Friday for drinks only. It will also be open from 6pm to 11pm on Saturday, and on Sunday from noon until 6pm, when food will be served.