A PUB has been saved from demolition at the 11th hour – for a second time.
The Crows Nest, in Hazleton Way, Waterlooville, was under threat from developers who wanted to bulldoze the building and replace it with three detached homes.
The new bid came after a previous application for four properties on the site was thrown out in December on the basis that the owners of the site, Acres Developments, had failed to market the site sufficiently as a going concern.
The decision sparked The News’ Love Your Local campaign, calling on councils across the area to adopt similar policies to protect local pubs.
The firm appealed to the government’s planning inspector to allow homes to be built on the site and the result came back on Wednesday – just hours before the planning committee were set to vote on the latest application.
The inspector upheld the council’s original refusal and launched a scathing attack on the marketing tactics employed by Acres Developments.
In his report inspector Robert Mellor said: ‘The marketing exercise has failed to demonstrate that the public house is unviable as the unrealistically high freehold asking price (£300,000 plus VAT) exceeded its likely value as a public house in this condition and location, or its value in an alternative community use, or even its likely development value for the proposed residential development.
‘That price is likely to have deterred potential operators who would need to invest in the building to maintain its viability beyond the short term.’
The receipt of the appeal decision prompted planners to take the unprecedented step of changing their recommendation for the latest application from a recommendation to approve to a refusal.
That decision came just hours before Thursday’s planning meeting – a move which Paul Mitson, from the developers, said was ‘entirely unacceptable.’
Despite the firm’s protests, the latest application was unanimously refused.
Landlady Donna Chayter said regulars were delighted. ‘When we found out the whole pub erupted in a big “yes!,’ she said. ‘We’re all ecstatic.’