‘Resisting the Appeal!’

The appeal against refusal of Planning Permission on the Eastern Annexe was held ‘virtually’ on Microsoft Teams this Tues & Wed 10th & 11th November.  An Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol presided over those present: David Fielder & Justin Claybourne (who spoke only to confirm his presence) & their agent Jennifer Hubbard; HBC Planning Officer Gerard Walsh; and for the HJCP Ltd – Dave Robinson, Richard Sadler, Sarah Haslam. Observing: Mark Owen HJCP and Pippa Manson – Chair, KMPC .

The meeting was controlled very strictly and every aspect of the situation regarding the Eastern-Annexe was examined in detail. Everyone was able to express their view and outline their position.

Basically, the view of the owners was that separating 2 halves of the site but offering the sale of the western half as a pub, was enough to satisfy the CFX & HPPF planning policies that protect community facilities. Obviously, the HJCP objected that removing one half of the building and two thirds of the car park would destroy the social asset viability of the whole site. The view of HBC, represented by planner Gerard Walsh, was broadly aligned with the HJCP position.

The HJCP Business Plan was then forensically unpicked line-by-line by the owners trying to prove it was unviable and unworkable. These arguments were stoutly rebutted by a belief in its robustness, the audit and standard mark it had been given; and the expert contribution of advice and consultation to its creation by 2 operating local pubs and the approval gained from 3 other community pubs.

Finally, as expected, Jennifer Hubbard lodged a claim for costs against HBC for the refusal of the permission which thus forced the appeal. A long list of reasons was presented claiming numerous breaches and misinterpretations of the planning policies by HBC. Each point was defended by the Planning Officer. A decision on this claim will be made later on.

The Appeal was concluded after a day and a half of computer debate and the decision by the Planning Inspector will be issued in the coming weeks.

The HJCP are cautiously optimistic as we feel that our still-expanding membership; our growing community share total; the vigorous and passionate defence of our position and our Business Plan; the protection of the new HBC planning policies within the Local Plan (particularly HP8);  and our strong belief that the residents of our parish have a right to have this community asset returned into proper use, will win the day.

We will announce, and release for examination, the full Planning Inspectors decision whichever way it goes, as soon as we receive it.