Villagers lose fight to save Downton pub

VILLAGERS in Downton have lost their fight to save a historic listed pub, which will now be turned into housing.

Carolyn Sutcliffe applied for permission to turn The Kings Arms in High Street into two three-bedroom houses, with extensions and two garages.

The pub has been closed for just over a year and reports carried out by the applicant and Wiltshire Council concluded a pub business is no longer viable.

The reports also concluded the site is not suitable for any other community use because of its configuration and location.

The 17th century pub was owned by Enterprise Inns who put the freehold up for sale for about £400,000 when they couldn’t find a new tenant for the pub, which has had ten landlords in the last ten years.

But Nick Sayer, who was landlord of the pub from 2002 to 2006, said: “In regard to the viability of the Kings Arms, there is no question that with a realistic rent the pub can be profitable.”

He added: “Who does the change of use benefit? Certainly not the majority of the residents of Downton.”

And Paul Charity, representing a group of people in the village who object to the change of use, said: “The King’s Arms, as a freehouse, has obvious potential to be a viable business. There was local interest in developing a business plan but neither the authorities nor Enterprise Inns have given that initiative a chance.

“If this application is upheld, the village loses a valuable asset forever. If, however, you look at all the facts objectively the applicant owns a viable business that will benefit future generations of villagers and visitors alike.”

The application prompted more than 60 letters of objection. Councillors on Wiltshire Council’s southern area planning committee were split on their views about the application at a meeting held at the Guildhall on Thursday evening.

Cllr Richard Clewer said: “I can’t see how it’s not viable; other pubs in the village seem to be thriving. I just don’t think we’ve got enough clear evidence to say that this isn’t a viable pub.”

But Cllr Chris Devine said: “You can’t force people to go and drink in a pub. Time and time again we have had this situation here and the reality is people are not going to pubs.”

Change of use was granted after five committee members voted for the plan, and four against it.

Comments (4)

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6:25pm Mon 5 May 14

Grampie says...

60 letters of objection and councillors who do not live in the village, voted in favour of a change of use.

Local democracy at work.

Losing any facility in a village is part of rural decay.

If the building remained as a pub, its estate value would drop and people would be able to afford to buy and run it at a profit.

At least Richard Clewer made an effort to save the pub, but outvoted by his pals.
60 letters of objection and councillors who do not live in the village, voted in favour of a change of use. Local democracy at work. Losing any facility in a village is part of rural decay. If the building remained as a pub, its estate value would drop and people would be able to afford to buy and run it at a profit. At least Richard Clewer made an effort to save the pub, but outvoted by his pals. Grampie
  • Score: 5

8:35pm Mon 5 May 14

Petera says...

These pubs cannot function on the high rents that Enterprise inns charge. As a freehouse it may have been viable. But as a tied house having to buy all of its beer through Enterprise Inns it had no chance. Just an awful shame.
These pubs cannot function on the high rents that Enterprise inns charge. As a freehouse it may have been viable. But as a tied house having to buy all of its beer through Enterprise Inns it had no chance. Just an awful shame. Petera
  • Score: 4

2:12pm Tue 6 May 14

IanMcL says...

The four of us who voted to save the pub felt there was still a chance and that the benefit of doubt should be given to save a community facility. Sadly others took the line that all had been done, already.

We heard that 10 years ago the turnover was £1.2m. An incredible downturn.
The four of us who voted to save the pub felt there was still a chance and that the benefit of doubt should be given to save a community facility. Sadly others took the line that all had been done, already. We heard that 10 years ago the turnover was £1.2m. An incredible downturn. IanMcL
  • Score: 4

6:06pm Fri 9 May 14

Tom Corbin says...

So many pubs in the Salisbury area are run by Enterprise, and so many are closing... http://1tomcorbin.wo
rdpress.com/2014/01/
26/
So many pubs in the Salisbury area are run by Enterprise, and so many are closing... http://1tomcorbin.wo rdpress.com/2014/01/ 26/ Tom Corbin
  • Score: 1

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