Campaigners hoping to save a Northampton pub from being turned into a shop have sent 552 letters of objection to the borough’s planning department.
Towards the end of 2015 owners of the Barn Owl on Olden Road in Rectory Farm, Hawthorn Leisure Limited, applied to turn the two-storey building into a grocery store.
But as the still-trading pub sits only 100 metres away from the popular Costcutter store a number of nearby residents revolted against the plan and launched a petition against it, believing such a move would kill trade at the shop. A total of 154 signed a petition against the plans and a remarkable 552 lodged letters of objection to the plans.
Councillor James Hill (Con, Rectory Farm) also objected on the grounds the move would deprive the area of a local pub and “community hub” and said pothole-riddled Olden Road was not suitable to withstand the traffic created be a new store.
As a result of his call-in, the application is now due to be decided on by a Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, January 19.
But despite the fact the borough council’s own estates management team has objected to the plans on the basis the authority also has a “leasehold interest” in the nearby Costcutter store, its planning department has recommended Hawthorn Leisure’s bid for approval.
A report to the committee reads: “The proposed alterations are considered acceptable and the proposal would not lead to any unacceptable impacts on adjacent amenity or significantly increased impacts on existing highway conditions.”
A bid by a group of residents formed the Save The Barn Owl Group before Christmas and lodged a request to see the pub registered as an ‘Asset of Community Value’. The nomination was rejected on December 8.
But the 552 letters of objection will be taken into consideration by the planning committee councillors when they consider the plan next Tuesday.
Among them, George Fannen, of Collyweston Road, wrote: “I object to this application as there is already a very capable shop within 50 metres of this site.
“I also object as I am a regular user of the Barn Owl pub as are many local people.”
And Paul Calderbank, said: “Losing an essential community hub such as the pub would be of great detriment to Rectory Farm and the wider community.”
There was only one letter of support for the scheme from a nearby resident stating there “could do with a better shop close by”.
It is understood the new store would be a Co-op if the plans were approved.
The planning committee will take place at the Guildhall on Tuesday, January 19 at 6pm.
A spokesperson for Hawthorn Leisure said: ”We are currently reviewing options for the future of the Barn Owl and while we go through this process, there is no proposed date for closure.”