Campaign pays off as plans to redevelop Portsmouth pub are thrown out

Residents who attended the public meeting at Fratton Community Centre and were adamantly against the proposed shop at the  Connaught Arms
Residents who attended the public meeting at Fratton Community Centre and were adamantly against the proposed shop at the Connaught Arms

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Campaigners have scored a victory after plans to redevelop The Connaught Arms were thrown out.

The Fratton community rallied after a developer put forward a proposal to turn the former local in Guildford Road into a shop.

The Connaught Arms in Portsmouth

The Connaught Arms in Portsmouth

An extension and rolling shutters would have been put in to make way for the store.

But Portsmouth City Council’s planning officers ruled the work would have had a ‘detrimental impact’ on the appearance of the area – so have refused it.

While an appeal could be lodged against the decision, supporters say it’s great news and another step towards bringing back the pub – even though an investor with a lot of cash may be needed to revive its fortunes.

Fratton Lib Dem councillor Dave Ashmore, who put together a petition against the plans signed by more than 800 people, is relieved by the outcome.

I would like to think the campaign and local people’s views played a part in it being refused.

Fratton Lib Dem councillor Dave Ashmore

Cllr Ashmore, who also held a public meeting into the plans, said: ‘It was refused by the planning officers on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the area, to the appearance of the area and it wouldn’t be in keeping, so I am happy with that.

‘The council was inundated with objection letters – a lot of people signed the petition.

‘I’d like to think the campaign and local people’s views played a part in it being refused.

‘It’s brilliant news. The residents and the local shops are happy with the outcome.’

Ellie Raven, landlady of The Newcome Arms in Newcome Road, had raised fears the proposed store would have jeopardised the future of long-standing family businesses Penhale News and Handy Stores.

Cllr Ashmore said: ‘It will be interesting to see what happens now. The wall had been knocked down in preparation for the extension. The pub has been gutted. So if it’s to re-open as a pub again, someone would have to spend a lot of money.’

Developers currently don’t need planning permission to turn a shop into flats.

But if an extension and other structural changes to the outside or inside are needed to accommodate a store, then approval is needed for those works.

Pub campaign group the Campaign for Real Ale is lobbying for changes in the planning system so that developers need to get planning permission before turning a pub into a shop.

The Co-op has recently pledged it will seek the approval of a local authority first before taking on a potential site.