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Planning success for sensitive conversion of pub to 5 flats, Gloucestershire

front view of pub conversion to residential flats

We have secured planning approval for the change of use of a pub to residential units in a town centre location in the Cotswolds.  Although a sensitive and challenging site, we presented a strong and policy-based case for the redevelopment and regeneration of an empty pub, which will now become 5 stylish flats.

Change of use – pub to residential

Despite best efforts to diversify, the pub had been running at a loss and closed in January 2018. Marketing efforts showed no interest and therefore our client sought to convert the site to residential flats.

The site had several constraints, not least its central location in a conservation area, attached to a Grade II listed property and within Flood Zone 2. However, our development appraisal highlighted the very real benefits of the conversion and that the scheme was demonstrably sustainable, policy compliant and would not be detrimental to the viability and vitality of the town.

To further support the planning application, we pulled together a strong project team comprising RRA Architects who prepared the drawings for a sensitive conversion, a Flood Risk Assessment provided by Geo Smart and a marketing and viability report by Fleurets.

Making the planning case for a pub change of use

Through our research and planning application we successfully evidenced:

  • the sustainable nature of the scheme;
  • the effective re-use of a redundant site in a central location;
  • why the provision of housing represented an appropriate alternative use;
  • how the proposals were policy complaint, not only at a local and national level, but also in regard to site-specific policies relating to the conservation area, heritage and its central area location;
  • planning arguments to support the design ethos behind the conversion coupled with relevant precedents;
  • how the proposals would support windfall housing provision.

Planning strategy – resubmit or appeal?

Through our strong planning submission and positive engagement with the case officer the application was recommended for approval.  Due to the nature of the application it was taken to Planning Committee where, following intense debate, it was refused 6 votes to 8. However, the debate focused on regret at the loss of the pub, rather than any policy reasons to justify refusal.

In response, we came up with a strategy that blended the following considerations: knowledge that the proposal was policy compliant; a comprehensive planning application submission; knowledge that the given proposal would have a strong chance of success at appeal; cognisance of client’s aspirations.

We submitted a fresh application with additional viability evidence from JSR, to alleviate concerns of councillors who voted against. This report further demonstrated that the pub was not viable and that its loss would not diminish the town’s cultural tourism offerings nor impact negatively on the viability and vitality of the town. Concurrently, we also submitted a planning appeal.

The fresh application was again taken to Planning Committee. Unable to make a final decision, it was felt that the application should go to Full Council for determination. The application was approved at Full Council with a significant majority vote and in response we withdrew the appeal.

How our planning consultants added value to this pub conversion

To negotiate the above we relied on our:

  • knowledge of the inner workings of Planning Committees;
  • added value by successfully evidencing how the proposal was policy compliant and we utilised our knowledge of planning procedures to increase the likelihood of an expedient positive result for the client.

We are delighted with the outcome, which will secure the future of a beautiful building and bring an empty unit back to life in a town centre location.

We work extensively with landlords, helping them to manage their pub portfolios; from extending the offer at the pub, to diversification and redevelopment. We appreciate that pub closures are an emotive topic and we seek to work with publicans and the local community to find positive resolution and outcomes.  You can read more about our work in this area here: Plainview Planning – pubs.

If you require planning support then feel free to contact the team via enquiries@plainview.co.uk to find out more about our services and to receive a no obligation fee quote.

IMAGE SOURCE: RRA ARCHITECTS (2018)