Charity has lost its planning appeal to accommodate refugees from Ukraine

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Planning application and appeal to accommodate refugees from Ukraine in an old and unviable public house in Cold Ashby has been rejected.

The Black Horse public house in Cold Ashby has been shut for 4 years due to being unviable, so Friendship Zone, a registered charity, applied to accommodate refugees from Ukraine in the beginning of 2022.

Daventry Planning Department rejected the initial application in October 2022 and The Planning Inspectorate upheld the refusal in February 2024 after the Charity appealed.

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Paul Kuznecovs, director of Friendship Zone, has said: "We are disappointed that our appeal has been refused, however we accept strong feelings of some community members about The Black Horse. The part of the community has unequivocally spoken that while they support People of Ukraine, they do not believe a small rural village is the right place to accommodate refugees."

The government agency, while being sympathetic with the noble cause of helping People of Ukraine, concluded that: "planning decisions guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs", as well as: "No material considerations have been shown to carry sufficient weight to warrant a decision otherwise than in accordance with the development plan".

The appeal conclusion echoes the view of the current leader of Cold Ashby Parish Council Steve Roper, stating on Save The Black Horse online petition: "We are a small village, we don’t have a shop, post office , public transport we need our pub!!!"

The initial application has attracted around 37 objections, with most, if not all objectors, confirming that Cold Ashby does not have enough community facilities to meet day-to-day needs such as a shop, post office, public house etc. With one objector going even further to suggest that, if the public house does not re-open, he would have no choice, but to leave the area for good.

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To conclude Paul Kuznecovs has stated: "We wish the conclusion of the planning application and appeal did not take almost 2 years to be decided, looks as bureaucracy in some instances last as long as wars. While we believe the appeal decision is incorrect and even has sufficient grounds for High Court appeal, we have decided to take a different path. The Charity has analysed all objections and agrees that Cold Ashby lacks community facilities to meet day-to-day needs of its residents."

Friendship Zone is in final stages of compiling required documentation and researches to submit a new planning application to set up a viable village shop to facilitate day-to-day needs of residents of Cold Ashby.

Editor’s note: Following the publication of this contributed article, we have been asked to make the following corrections and clarifications. The original article contributed by Mr Kuznecovs, who owns The Black Horse building, stated that permission was granted by “Daventry planning department”. It was, in fact, West Northamptonshire Council. The article also states that the “pub was unviable”. The Planning Inspector's report states “there was no compelling evidence that the venue would not be able to open again as a public house and continue trading again.”. The article also states that the pub was closed because “it was unviable”. The Chronicle & Echo reported in March 2022 that the pub closed due to the Covid pandemic. The article also refers to the pub as “a community venue”. The Cold Ashby Community Pub Group (CACPG) states that the pub would require a change of use before being classed as a community venue and that it has not been used as such. CACPG also wanted to clarify that the pub is not vacant as Mr Kuznecovs has been residing in the building.