Decision to be made next week over future of well-known village pub in Northamptonshire - here's what will be discussed

The council has revealed what will be discussed at next week's planning meeting when deciding on the future of the once popular, but now empty, pub

Friday, 30th July 2021, 4:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st August 2021, 12:01 am

Plans to convert a well-known village pub in Northamptonshire and build houses on its adjoining car park are set to be discussed by councillors next week.

Proposals from London-based firm Just Pubs Limited to convert The Bull, in Harpole, into three homes will be brought up at West Northamptonshire Council's (WNC) planning committee on August 5.

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The Bull in Harpole

In a pre-planning report, WNC outlined key questions that will be addressed within the meeting.

A WNC spokesman said: "The first question to consider is whether the marketing exercise itself was properly conducted. Concerns have been raised by several third parties that it was not carried out fairly and that the commercial agents for the proposal were obstructive or uncooperative with those enquiring about the pub.

"The second question to consider is whether any offers that were received demonstrate the site is still capable of fulfilling community needs."

Of the offers received for the pub, the majority were for redevelopment purposes rather than as a community facility, the spokesman said.

"However, one offer was in fact received, which is recorded in the marketing statement as being for an Indian restaurant, which would not be regarded as a community facility in policy terms.

"Nevertheless, it has since been confirmed with both the applicant and individual in question that the offer was in fact made on the basis of continuing the pub use albeit with an additional food element.

"Therefore it needs to be considered whether this one offer is sufficient to demonstrate that the site could still fulfil the needs of the local community and is viable," the report reads.

The report goes on to highlight other considerations which could be taken when making a final decision.

"Firstly, the marketing spanned the introduction of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, which quite feasibly may have limited its effectiveness and resulted in interest in the site being underestimated.

"Secondly, Harpole is served by two other public houses and so, relatively speaking, the loss of its third pub would not prejudice community needs to the same extent as the loss of a sole pub in a village would do," the report reads.

Harpole Parish Council (HPC) fiercely opposes the plans and has made that clear in its objections to the WNC.

HPC wrote: "The parish council still objects to the significant loss of a valuable community asset which has been justified by the developer using a flawed viability report and a half-hearted marketing effort where offers were turned down with no attempt at negotiation.

"The Viability Report claims that the attractive, vibrant expanded village with a total population of approximately 1,600 is insufficient to support three pubs, but fails to take account of over 3,000 houses planned within the parish, with relatively few community facilities."

The pub has been stood empty and up for sale as a freehold pub for more than a year but has been a mainstay in the village for decades.

Initial proposals were submitted in February which looked to build four three-storey semi-detached homes on the pub's car park as well as demolishing parts of the pub and turning the remains of it into a home.