Plans withdrawn to turn empty village pub near Northampton into row of houses - could the community buy it after yesterday's Budget announcement?

"It is very important that valued community facilities are protected, and not replaced with housing"

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:30 pm

A planning application to turn an empty village pub near Northampton into a row of three-storey houses has been withdrawn by the applicants - with many residents voicing their concerns over the proposals.

Plans were submitted earlier this year to demolish parts of the currently closed down The Bull, in Harpole, and build houses on its out-of-use car park.

The initial proposals, which were submitted by London-based firm Just Pubs Limited, said the wet-led village pub was "not capable of operating on a profitable basis in the long term" due to reasons including the effects of Covid and the level of competition in the area - there are two other pubs in Harpole.

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The Bull, in Harpole

However, many residents in the village have officially objected to the application for multiple reasons.

One objector said: "I object to this application. The Bull is a community facility in Harpole. With the building of more than 2000 new houses in the Harpole parish over the next few years, it is very important that valued community facilities are protected, and not replaced with housing."

Another wrote: "I do have a problem with the proposal to build four semi-detached houses on the rest of the site. This is pure greed by the developer."

And another added: "I object to the proposed development because there was no attempt to engage with interested parties to continue the site as a business. The developers have made no attempt to consult with the parish council to discuss the type of housing the village may need."

It is also believed a local resident tried to put a bid in for the property but did not hear back from Just Pubs Limited, which the company said was due to the offer being too low.

Just Pubs Limited said it would be re-submitting a tailored application. The firm's director, Terry O'Sullivan, said: "Yes we are putting in a tailored application. We run a pub estate and unfortunately this pub was no longer financially viable, and as such, there was a viability report included with the application."

The government announced its Budget yesterday (Wednesday, March 3) which included a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help ensure that communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them - this includes pubs.

According to the government, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched-funding to help them buy or take over local community assets at risk of being lost, to run as community-owned businesses.

A government spokesperson said: "The Community Ownership Fund will help ensure that important parts of the social fabric, such as pubs, sports clubs, theatres and post office buildings, can continue to play a central role in towns and villages across the UK."

The first bidding round for the Community Ownership Fund will open by June 2021. For more information on the Community Ownership Fund and how to apply, click here.

To view the planning application and objections in their entirety, click here.