Controversial plans to demolish Brixworth pub for new Co-Op refused by councillors

Controversial plans to demolish a former Brixworth pub and replace it with a new Co-Op building have been refused for a second time by councillors.

Thursday, 11th June 2020, 5:38 pm
The Co-Op wants to move into a new site that would result in the demolition of the former pub.

A scheme to knock down the former Red Lion pub and hotel on Harborough Road was refused by councillors last year, a decision that was upheld in an appeal.

But revised plans submitted to Daventry District Council saw the schemes debated for a second time by the planning committee, and this time they found a new reason to refuse the scheme when they met virtually last night (June 10).

The first version of the application was refused due to ‘unacceptable’ design and ‘insufficient parking’. The Planning Inspector overseeing the Co-Op’s first appeal agreed it would cause ‘unacceptable harm’ to the character and appearance of the Brixworth Conservation Area, in which the site is located. But he dismissed the parking concerns.

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The council’s planning officers said that the new designs ‘addressed’ previous concerns and that, as a result, they were now recommending the scheme for approval.

Members of the committee were warned that refusing on parking and highways safety grounds again risked leaving the council open to costs as the Inspector had ruled that argument invalid in the appeal. This was despite the county council’s highways team objecting once again on safety grounds due to delivery drivers potentially obstructing vehicles when unloading on the main road.

Ward councillor Kevin Parker instead suggested refusing the application based on the demolition of the Red Lion ‘harming’ the conservation area. Fellow ward councillor Jonathan Harris said: “The vast majority of the people in the village would welcome a new facility. But this simply is not a suitable location for such a facility.”

The plans would see the Co-Op move from their current site at Spratton Road to the new site, but councillors were concerned at the lack of parking spaces.

And at the weekend, a number of residents in the village had parked cars on the main road to highlight how busy and dangerous the site could become. More than 23 residents had formally objected to the plans, backed up by an objection from Brixworth Parish Council.

But Steve Edgeller, the agent for the Co-Op, said: “Thirty residents creating a scene doesn’t change anything.”

He added: “The new building is an improvement and responds more positively to its context and makes a positive contribution to the conservation area.

“What’s important at the moment is the investment, jobs and services the new Co-Op will bring at a time when the country needs it most. What it doesn’t need is a drain on the public purse from pursuing an unreasonable appeal against officer advice.”

But Councillor Parker highlighted comments from the council’s own conservation officer to back his grounds for refusal. The conservation officer’s report states: “The appeal inspector’s report (8 Nov 2019) agreed with the council’s position and concluded that the Red Lion adds to the architectural and historic character of the conservation area. Its demolition would harm the character of the conservation area. It is therefore curious as to why the heritage assessment accompanying the current application is still insisting that the building is of no heritage interest and that its removal would result in negligible harm.”

Members of the committee largely agreed with those comments and the proposal from Councillor Parker to refuse.

Councillor David James added: “Apart from the highways concern you do have to ask about whether the replacement building adds anything or detracts from the conservation area. I think removing that building does detract from it, and the design of the supermarket is not sufficient to justify doing it.”

Twelve of the 14 councillors went against officer advice to approve and decided to refuse the application, though the decision is once again open to appeal from the Co-Op.