Pub house plan is withdrawn

Unpopular plans to turn a vacant village pub into a house have been withdrawn.

The Herald reported last month that an application had been submitted to change the use of The Plough in Mitford to residential.

However, villagers were outraged at the proposal and at a packed public meeting they demanded a re-think, while an action group was formed to look into the possibility of buying and running the pub as a community asset.

Applicant Newcastle Estates had argued that the pub was no longer viable as a business, with seven tenants in as many years passing through and the premises remaining vacant for about 18 months.

But now it has formally withdrawn its residential application.

Mitford Parish Council Chairman Mike Sharp said: “We don’t know what happened, but the planning officer received the submission from the parish council about this and there were also a lot of individual objections from residents in Mitford. It was clear to us that the application just didn’t stand up.

“We are delighted that the applicant decided to reconsider his position and has withdrawn the application.”

However, villagers are not easing up on their efforts to re-open The Plough and are seeking to register the pub as ‘an asset of community value’, which would give them more opportunity to secure the premises.

Coun Sharp said: “We have generated a lot of momentum in the village around The Plough and we have to build on that so we are going to register the pub as an asset of community value with the county council.

“It is part of the Community Right To Buy scheme in the Localism Act. If the registration is successful then it puts a moratorium on the sale for about six months to give the community time to make a bid for the premises.

“The owner isn’t obliged to accept a bid that the community makes, but it does provide space for the community to put a bid together. We are in the process of making that application at the moment.”

He added: “As an action group we need to set up a community collective to raise funds so that we can be in a position to make an offer for The Plough.

“With the application being withdrawn it gives us more time to put that together, but we are not going to ease up. We are going to keep the momentum going and hopefully end up with a pub that the community owns.”