Condition 2 is particularly relevant to us as a community, which ensures that a public house is provided in accordance with policies in both the Local and National Plans:
“Prior to the commencement of development, details of the internal refurbishment of the public house shall be submitted to and approved by the local
planning authority. Once approved the public house as shown on the plans shall be completed and refurbished in line with the approved specification within six months of the date of first occupation of the dwellings hereby consented and thereafter shall be retained”
We will continue to protect the status of the pub with the Asset of Community Value, to ensure that we retain the smaller pub for the benefit of both the residents and keep updating our website of any further developments during the course of 2018.
The Wellington Pub Company (WPC) have not appealed the decision to have The Villagers Pub re-listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Therefore, the full Moratorium period now runs under the Localism Act 2011 until Thursday 21 September 2017 and we have formerly notified Waverley Borough Council (WBC) that the Blackheath Village Society is a community interest group that has registered their interest in purchasing the property, subject to the ACV.
The emerging bat surveys have been commissioned with The Surrey Wildlife Trust and the first survey was carried out on Wednesday 24 May with the second being completed on Thursday 22 June 2017. Once this report has been received by the BVS, we will be resubmitting our revised planning application (WA/2016/1940) for full planning approval.
As part of this ongoing process, we have also applied to WBC for this untidy site to be cleared up by the owners. We therefore requested that a Section 215 Notice is submitted by the Council under the Town and County Planning Act 1990. This case was allocated to a Planning Enforcement Officer (Natasha Rozanski), who visited the property last month and agreed to process our application. She made contact with WPC and requested the following work is carried out immediately:
a) To clean and repaint the front elevation.
b) To repair and repaint the chimney.
c) To clear and remove all over-growing vegetation from both the front of the property.
The legislation however does not allow the Council to serve Notice on the owner to remove the security barriers, as they have no powers to prevent WPC from securing the property, however unsightly it may appear.
We have now reached our next milestone in saving The Villagers Public House in Blackheath, by obtaining full planning permission to retain the existing public house and convert part of the property into two cottages.
Full details of the successful planning permission can be downloaded from the following link:
The intention of the Blackheath Village Society is to contact The Wellington Pub Company and emphasise our interest in purchasing the property, in order that we can carry out the works to the property to provide a local pub that the residents and community will be proud of.
The clean up works has been carried out by contractors on behalf of The Wellington Pub Company in respect of the Section 215 Notice submitted by the Council on behalf of The Blackheath Village Society (BVS). If the Local Planning Authority considers that the condition of land or buildings is having a harmful effect on the area they may serve a Notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Notice require certain steps to be undertaken by the owner of the land to remedy its condition.
The Surrey Wildlife Trust have completed the “emerging bat surveys” and there has been evidence of two species of bats, which will need protecting when the property is refurbished. This will require the appropriate licences from Natural England and will be applied for, if we are successful in purchasing The Villagers Public House for redevelopment.
Our revised planning application will now be submitted to Waverley Borough Council, which includes the "emerging bat surveys" and we anticipate that the Council will provide us with a positive decision. The Committee has also submitted an application to the BVS Finance Committee to partially assist with the cost, which amounts to 60% of the fees to Surrey Wildlife Trust.
Criterion Asset Management who act for the Wellington Pub Company have confirmed that the property has been sold to Lux Homes Ltd (subject to contract) and this will not proceed unless they obtain planning permission to convert the property into a residential unit(s). As a result the “For Sale” sign has been removed and it is our belief that if we are successful with planning then there is a strong likelihood that Lux Homes Ltd will withdraw from the conditional contract.
Should this happen, it seems likely that the property will be re-marketed at a price which more closely represents its market value as a pub, as opposed to a residential development, in which case we will revitalise the project to buy, renovate/convert and re-open the smaller pub.
In the meantime, we have had the full support of our local MP Anne Milton and I attach a copy of her letter to the Reuben Brothers (who are the ultimate owners) and to date she has not had a reply, although a reminder will be sent by Anne Milton’s office shortly:
The committee will continue to work on your behalf, as we share everyone's concern that we do not wish the property to remain derelict any longer than necessary. We will arrange another Committee meeting once we hear about our planning application to increase pressure on the Wellington Pub Company and any resident is welcome to join us and share in the discussions.
No areas have been allocated for refuse collection and deliveries and the position of the bike storage to the front of the property creates a safety hazard.
The main focus of our objections relate to the lack of parking for the public house and two cottages, causing obstructions in the narrow lanes for both the residents and the emergency services along Blackheath Lane, especially at weekends with visitors to Blackheath Common.
Once Lux Homes fails with their application, we believe the property will come back on the open market providing us with the opportunity of purchasing the public house at market value.
A further planning application (WA/2017/1853) was submitted by Lux Homes in October, which looks very similar to our application, but there are some important differences between the two approaches and the residents of Blackheath raised 37 objections to the proposal. We believe that Lux Homes will sell the 3rd cottage with the loss of the pub, as it will be set up to intentionally fail and achieve this aim.
Our application promoted a community pub for the local & wider community and we provided a detailed business plan, strategy and profit & loss account. Lux Homes has failed to provide any evidence that a commercial public house would succeed, which opens up the question of their true intentions for this part of the enabling development. There is a material change to the front elevation, which creates a terracing effect and compromises the subservient nature between the public house and adjoining garage.
Blackheath Village Society (BVS) can now confirm that The Villagers Public House was re-listed as an Asset of Community (ACV) by Waverley Borough Council (WBC) on 2 March 2017. The Wellington Pub Company Plc (WPC) have a period of 8 weeks to appeal this decision, which The Villagers Pub Association Committee (VPA) will defend if the owners request a review. As a result of this decision, we have provisionally concluded that Lux Homes Ltd may decide not to proceed with their option to buy the building "subject to a change of use" as a residential development.
The VPA have now commissioned The Surrey Wildlife Trust to carry out an "emerging bat survey" between May and September this year, which will provide the final piece of documentation and allow us to re-submit our full planning application to WBC. If we are successful this will give the VPA the opportunity to commence negotiations with WPC again and progress with our various funding initiatives.
January 2018 Update:
Waverley Borough Council (WBC) have recently approved the application by Lux Homes Ltd, to carry out alterations and extensions to the existing building with additional associated works for a smaller Public House and two dwellings.
We can take encouragement that WBC have attached 3 further conditions to a very similar planning application made by Lux Home to our application, which was granted in September 2017. These conditions are clearly a result of the residents objections to the planning application. We will now have to wait and see how the applicant Mark Hulbert reacts to these conditions and whether his company will still proceed with the ‘option to buy’ and purchase the Public House from the Wellington Pub Company, the sale of which was subject to a successful planning application.
The VPA/BVS will also be making representations to WBC regarding the current state of the property and using any legislation available to us to pressure WPC to improve the visual appearance of the building. The Committee is in communication with Anne Milton (MP) and Michael Goodridge (Borough Councillor), who are assisting us to achieve this objective.
June 2018 Update:
Further to our January 2018 update, we have had further communications from the solicitor acting on behalf of Lux Homes Ltd. The Blackheath Village Society has been invited to enter into discussions with Lux Homes Ltd or their representatives to consider the long term running of the new proposed public house.
Before deciding whether or not to agree to their proposal, we will be asking them to advise us of the terms of the proposed Leasehold and confirmation that all of the conditions specified in their planning application will be completed:
Once these details have been provided and analysed, we will then decide whether it is the interests of the village to continue the dialogue with Lux Homes Ltd or consider other options. To assist us in that regard now would be an ideal opportunity for anyone in the village to advise the Committee whether you are interested in being involved with the running of the new public house.
The Villagers Pub
FOR THE COMMUNITY, BY THE COMMUNITY