Public inquiry to be held over refusal of planning permission to build flats on Knebworth pub site

The Station pub in Knebworth

The Station pub in Knebworth - Credit: Archant

A public inquiry will be held over the decision to refuse planning permission for homes to be built on the site of a village pub.

Developer Market Homes wants to erect a three-storey building to provide nine two-bed flats, and convert an existing store into a one-bed house, in the pub garden of The Station in Knebworth.

The plans include reopening the pub, which has been closed since February last year, but there are widespread concerns this will not be viable due to the close proximity of the proposed development.

The plans have been met with fierce opposition from residents, who have set up the Save Our Station Pub Action Group in a bid to stop the development on Station Approach.

North Herts District Council’s Planning Control Committee refused the application back in May - going against the recommendation of the council’s own development manager, which was to grant planning permission with conditions.

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The committee’s reasons for refusal included poor design and layout, a lack of parking and no financial contribution towards infrastructure such as schools.

The developer subsequently lodged an appeal against the decision and the Planning Inspectorate has now decided to hold a four-day public inquiry, beginning on December 4.

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In the council’s Statement of Case, submitted to the Planning Inspectorate ahead of the inquiry, it says: “The development would be prejudicial to the retention of this important community facility, which is a designated Asset of Community Value and the only pub in Knebworth.

“The block of flats would present a cramped appearance in the street scene and this, together with its overall design, would be out of keeping with the character and visual amenities of Station Approach and Park Lane.”

The developer says: “There is a need to boost significantly the supply of housing in the district and there are no adverse impacts that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of providing such housing on the site, as well as the benefits of securing the long-term future of the pub.”

Lisa Nash, for the action group, said: “The pub could not be viable with the amount of space retained for it and with a lack of garden space.

“This area is also well-known for heavy traffic congestion and inherent parking problems, which have not been taken into consideration.”

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