Fighting tooth and claw to save pub
Converting the White Lion would set a dangerous precedent, say campaigners
CAMPAIGNERS will battle to save an historic pub from being developed into a house next month.
The new owners of the White Lion in St Leonards have submitted a planning application to Chiltern District Council to turn the 300-year-old pub into a house.
About 80 people from the Save the White Lion group which registered a community company to purchase the freehold of the building from the new owners and restore it as a pub with community facilities are expected at the planning committee’s meeting.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has launched a similar campaign nationwide which asks the Government to give more protection to pubs.
Member of the Save the White Lion group, Rick Waghorn, said: “In the Chilterns area pubs are worth a lot more if they are converted into houses. There is a danger people buy up the pubs and close them down to sell off as houses and make vast profits.
“It is not just one or two pubs. If they manage to get planning permission then quite a big precedent will be set in January. It won’t just be one or two pubs.”
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has announced 600 pubs listed as Assets of Community Value, following a campaign to encourage local groups to register pubs as ACVs.
However CAMRA officials say that with 31 pubs still closing per week more needs to be done to protect pubs – with the Government letting communities down by allowing conversion of pubs to supermarkets without planning permission.
Tom Stainer, CAMRA head of communications, said: “Government ministers are giving communities false hope by suggesting that listing a pub as an Asset of Community Value is the solution to gaps in the planning system when they are clearly not.”
Evidence collated by CAMRA earlier this year revealed that two pubs a week are converted into supermarket convenience stores, which led to the launch of their ‘Pubs Matter’ campaign which asks the Government to close the current loopholes and ensure planning permission is always required to convert a pub to other uses.