Villagers see red over proposals for pub conversion
A developer’s plan for a redundant pub is facing a backlash from villagers who want it to re-open.
Father-son team Ralph and Alistair Noel have designs for the former Chapter Arms at Chartham Hatch, having bought the building after it failed to sell as a going concern.
They want to extend and convert the pub into a luxury home, build a terrace of three starter homes on the car park, and create a micropub and holiday ‘pods’ on the former beer garden.
But many villagers are objecting, and around 60 attended a public meeting at the village hall recently to condemn the scheme.
They want the pub to re-open, but Mr Noel senior insists it was closed by the previous owner because it was not viable and he had no success in selling it on as a business.
But he faced the wrath of villagers at the meeting where there were heated exchanges between himself and objectors.
The parish council is also objecting to the development on the grounds that closing the pub would result in the loss of an important village amenity and the plans are an over-development of the site.
More than a dozen villagers have also left objections on the city council’s planning website, many saying the pub could be viable – in the right hands.
After the meeting, Mr Noel said claims a revived pub could be a “gold mine” were unrealistic.
“The fact is that it wasn’t viable for the owner, who was unable to sell it as a going concern for two years,” he said.
“I didn’t close the pub down – it was already shut when I bought the property.”
Mr Noel said he bought the building to convert into his own home because he liked the location.
But he and son Alistair also saw the potential of the site to create starter homes, a holiday venture and a micropub.
Alistair said: “Many country pubs are struggling? You only have to look at how many are up for sale.
“But a micropub is a much more 21st century solution and more likely to succeed in offering villagers a place to enjoy a pint.
“We could have applied to bulldoze the lot and build big executive homes, but are trying to be sympathetic to the village and innovative in offering two-bed starter homes and a holiday venture with the pods to take advantage of its location near the North Downs Way.
“We did put our proposals to the parish council last year to get some feedback but they wouldn’t comment.
“It was very frustrating and really left us nowhere to go but to submit the formal application.”
Developers Ralph and Alistair Noel in front of the former Chapter Arms
Artist’s impression of the proposed micropub