Fears over ‘cheap and cheerful’ Havant pub bedsits appeal

CLOSED The derelict Cobden Arms, in West Street, Havant
CLOSED The derelict Cobden Arms, in West Street, Havant

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THE government’s planning inspector has been asked to look again at proposals to turn a derelict pub into bedsits.

The Cobden Arms, in West Street, Havant, has been empty for three years and has been broken into several times.

The new owner made a bid to create nine rooms with en-suite bathrooms, which was turned down by Havant Borough Council last October.

An appeal has now been made to the planning inspector on the grounds that the planning committee made the wrong decision.

Martin Critchley, the architect behind the scheme, said there has been a ‘gross misunderstanding’ that this could be housing for young offenders.

He said: ‘We had what we think is a very reasonable application to turn a pub into houses of multiple occupation.

‘It’s a way of keeping the pub as a building in a conservation area without doing much changes and putting it back into commission.’

He said it was ‘entry level’ housing for young people, including students.

‘My clients are private people and commercial landlords,’ he said.

‘They are not interested in social engineering or providing care.

‘It’s cheap and cheerful housing for people who are on the first rung of moving away from home.’

But neighbours said the transient nature of the people who would live there would make them feel vulnerable.

They are concerned that if it is only for young people they will not be there long enough to form a ‘neighbourly bond’.

Lesley Petrie, who owns property next to the pub, said: ‘We want something done with the pub because it’s an eyesore but we don’t want the plan that’s been submitted.

‘It will be nine young people, around 18, unsupervised, with no caretaker.

‘You don’t know who is going to be in there. Living next door will be horrendous for me but for the other side with the alleyway they have the added problem of their privacy being invaded.

‘We’re quite happy for flats to go in there but not what they’re planning on doing in the centre of Havant.’

The building is in a conservation area. Although the facade would be kept, extensions at the back would be knocked down and replaced.

The deadline for submitting an opinion is March 11.