We extend our warmest thanks to the local councillors who sit on the Planning Committee. Had they not turned down the three applications so far we would have lost our pub already. Their reasons for turning down the application rest largely on the fact that the owners cannot satisfy the requirements of the policies they are using to support their application. In reviewing the case after the failure of the first application, the Planning Inspector concluded that the failure of the owners’ business did not mean that the premises could not support another person’s business. Most importantly, he stated:
…it seems to me that the least that is needed to demonstrate that this facility is no longer financially viable is a genuine and thorough marketing exercise…
So far, this has not happened.
At the time the third application was submitted the official national planning guidance document was National Policy Guidance. This set out the general agenda that the planning officers should follow when considering applications. However, it appears that they did not take into account a substantial and influential number of key policies as we detail below:
National Policy Guidance
The repeated applications contravene three key aspects of National Planning Policy:
Quality of Life
To help achieve sustainable economic growth, the Government’s objectives for planning are to:
raise the quality of life and the environment in rural areas by promoting thriving, inclusive and locally distinctive rural communities whilst continuing to protect the open countryside for the benefit of all
By supporting every application to take away the School House Inn, the council are not even close to fulfilling this section. The replacement of the pub with a housing development would take away our village identity – our village thrives because we have a fantastic public house and a meeting place.
Appropriate Housing Development
identify local service centres (which might be a country town, a single large village or a group of villages) and locate most new development in or on the edge of existing settlements where employment, housing (including affordable housing), services and other facilities can be provided close together
If the School House Inn was converted into housing, we would lose the only community facility we have. The Marishes could offer no services or facilities and even less employment opportunities for the existing community and any future occupiers. Our pub is our hub and we need it. THEREFORE:
When assessing planning applications affecting shops, leisure uses including public houses or services in local centres and villages, local planning authorities should:
- take into account the importance of the shop, leisure facility or service to the local community or the economic base of the area if the proposal would result in its loss or change of use
- refuse planning applications which fail to protect existing facilities which provide for people’s day-to-day needs
- respond positively to planning applications for the conversion or extension of shops which are designed to improve their viability
How is this interpreted in Ryedale District Council’s Local Plan?
Under Policy L11, the council state:
Outside of the Market Towns, proposals for the change of use of buildings which currently house a community facility (for these purposes “community facilities” are defined as schools, village stores and post offices, public houses, doctors’ surgeries/clinics, places of worship, village halls) will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:-
- The facility is no longer financially viable; or
- There is no demand for the facility within that locality; or
- Equivalent alternative facilities will be provided nearby.
Clearly, any application to convert the School House into residential accommodation or any application which reduces the scope of the pub is in conflict with both Local and National Planning Policy.
At the start of April, this National Policy Guidance was replaced by the National Planning Policy Framework which maintained much of the spirit of the superseeded National Policy Guidance. However, the council officers in charge chose to publish an Update Report bringing in what they claimed was a new consideration to the application. They referred to Section 3 (Supporting a Prosperous Rural Economy), Paragraph 55 (this paragraph is actually from an entirely different section – section 6):
To promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities
The conclusion drawn by council officers was:
In this case permission is not sought for a new build but a conversion. The additional dwelling could increase and support the existing community facilities [sic - there is only the one that they intend to shrink!] and provide necessary additional housing without harming the character of the area.
This is a misinterpretation of the policy and the fragment used to support this assertion is taken completely out of context of the National Planning Policy Framework. This sentence actually appears under Section 6 – Delivering A Wide Choice Of High Quality Homes which in fact does appear to be considering the location of new build properties.
In distorting the National Policy Framework in this way, the council are encouraging their committee members to forget that the public house already exists and should, in accordance with Section Three of the Framework, be ‘retain[ed] and develop[ed]‘.
The government thinks our council should:
promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship.
The council have persistently supported the applicant and have departed from elements of the National Planning Policy Framework that are specifically designed to protect our valuable community facility. Why? We don’t know.
We appeal to the council to listen, in a meaningful manner, to the voice of one of its communities. We feel passionately that our pub has the potential to become not just viable but to contribute significantly to the tourist economy of Ryedale. It can be done and has been done in other areas – follow this link to where this has been done successfully. In particular, look at Dykes End Pub, Reach and The George and Dragon, Hudswell.
If you have the time, don’t take our word for it – here are the links to the council’s Update Report and the National Planning Policy Framework. Just how far have the council stretched government guidance? You decide!