Agenda item

SDNP/18/02564/FUL - The Queens Hotel, High Street, Selborne, Alton, GU34 3JH

Mr Guy Macklin

 

Conversion and alteration of the existing Queens building and barn to form 4 residential dwellings, including demolition of single storey structures, and the erection of 1 detached dwelling within the grounds, with associated parking and landscaping . (Final Bat Survey Report for Barn received 22/6/2018)  Amended drawings received 3 August 2018  Updated arboricultural information 28/9/2018

 

 

                                               

Minutes:

Conversion and alteration of the existing Queens building and barn to form 4 residential dwellings, including demolition of single storey structures, and the erection of 1 detached dwelling within the grounds, with associated parking and landscaping.  (Final Bat Survey Report for Barn received 22/6/2018) Amended drawings received 3 August 2018 Updated arboricultural information received 28/9/2018 Amended site plan 3/1/2019 (refuse storage relocated)

 

Cllr Ashcroft left the committee to speak as the local ward councillor.

 

The Principal Planning Officer introduced the application.  She displayed photographs of the site along with a variety of plans including the proposed site plan, proposed floor plan and proposed streetscene.

 

She drew the committee’s attention to the Supplementary Matters which confirmed that planning policy had been updated since the report had been written.  The Pre-Submission South Downs Local Plan had previously been afforded considerable weight.  This plan was now at a stage where the draft policies could be afforded significant weight.  The principal local plan document was still the EHDC Joint Core Strategy (JCS) which had been adopted in 2014 and was afforded full weight.  East Hampshire’s new draft Local Plan could not yet be given any weight and had not been referred to.   Policy SD43 had been proposed to be modified to increase the marketing period from 12 months to 24 months.  This did not change the officer’s recommendation as marketing had already been carried out for at least 24 months.

 

In order for the marketing and viability issues to be fully addressed, EHDC had commissioned an independent assessment by Vail Williams.  Their conclusions could be found on pages 55 and 56 of the report.

 

The Conservation Officer’s preferred use was that it be a public house, however there was support that the proposal would preserve or enhance the Conservation Area.

 

The officer’s recommendation was for permission.

 

The committee was addressed by the following deputees:

 

(1)  Cllr Palmer spoke on behalf of Selborne Parish Council.

 

As set out in Appendix 1 attached to these minutes.

 

Due to technical issues with the microphones, the meeting adjourned at 6.25pm.

 

The meeting reconvened at 6.27pm.

 

Cllr Mocatta joined the meeting.

 

(2)  Mrs Rye spoke on behalf of objectors to the application.

 

As set out in Appendix 2 attached to these minutes.

 

(3)  Mr Macklin and Walsha addressed the committee in support of the application.

 

As set out in Appendices 3 and 4 attached to these minutes.

 

Cllr Budden joined the meeting.

 

(4)  Cllr Ashcroft spoke as the local ward councillor.

 

He thanked the officer for their full, in depth report.  There had been a lot of feeling regarding this application and was very much heart versus head.

 

The Queens had been failing for a number of years.  The village shop was also on the market as it too had been failing.  The school saw falling numbers and the pre-school was struggling.

 

Opportunities for further development in Selborne was probably nil as it was within the South Downs National Park (SDNP).  There was a need for houses in the village for those who wanted to downsize. The building was not listed but this proposal would maintain the streetscene by keeping the iconic building.  He would have loved to see it kept as a wonderful bar and hotel but it would not be viable.  He did not want to see the building deteriorate further.

 

Cllr Ashcroft understood that the letting rooms had Permitted Development Rights and could have been converted in to flats.

 

He was interested to hear the views of the committee.

 

The Chairman asked the Solicitor to address the legal points relevant to the application.

 

The Solicitor outlined the history relating to applications made by the community group, Save The Queens, to have the property listed as an Asset of Community Value.  He also outlined the relevance of the complaints made to the Local Government Ombudsman and the Compulsory Purchase Order.

 

The committee discussed the application.

 

The strength of feeling had been clear from letters residents had sent to members of the Planning Committee.

 

In support of the application, it was noted that the proposal would provide housing in a village that needed it under the constraints of the SDNP.  These dwellings would go some way towards the target of 100 homes per year the SDNP would be providing in the East Hampshire district.

 

Councillors who had been present on the site visit were dismayed at the current state of The Queens and felt that the building had been stripped bare seemingly unnecessary.  It was commented that the stripping out of the pub had become a material consideration by default and whilst members appreciated that the owner could do what they wanted to their property, questioned how it could be marketed as a pub.

 

In response to a question raised as to how the marketing exercise had been rigorous when the report said that it was flawed, the Principal Planning Officer said that the officer’s assessment was that despite limitations, it was not viable for The Queens to run as a public house.  It was not realistic to expect the owner to accept the offer of £139K from the community group when it had been valued at £500K.  With the amount of money that would need to be spent on it to return it to a public house, the returns would be so fragile, it would not be expected that a business would take it on as a public house.

 

The committee was not satisfied that adequate evidence had been provided to demonstrate that it met the requirements of Policies CP16, SD23 and SD43 of the Pre-Submission South Downs Local Plan.

 

The Director of Regeneration and Place said that the South Downs Local Plan was one step away from being adopted, therefore, carried significant weight.  Policy had steered the authority to look at marketing exercises which had been undertaken and the evidence in the report showed that the policies had been tested.  Whilst he noted there had been flaws, on balance, the marketing evidence put to the committee showed that there were not many operators who had expressed an interest in running it.  It was however very clear that there was a demand from the community.

 

It was felt that no vigorous review of marketing had been undertaken as tourist accommodation.  Alton was only three miles away and was in need of visitor accommodation for which there was no alternative available in Selborne.

 

The Director of Regeneration and Place said that when the marketing commenced, the South Downs Local Plan was in its extreme infancy and there had been no policy requirement for the retention of tourist accommodation.  The South Downs Local Plan was now at a much more advanced stage and there would be a slightly enlarged emphasis to what was required.

 

Overall, the committee was not satisfied that adequate evidence had been provided to demonstrate that the proposal met the requirements of Policy CP16 of the East Hampshire District Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy and Policies SD23 and SD43 of the emerging South Downs Local Plan.

 

The committee voted on the officer’s recommendation for permission, subject to the changes listed in the Supplementary Matters.  Also, that information be provided to the Conservation Officer regarding ventilation serving the basement.

 

Following the vote, the recommendation was declared LOST, 1 Councillor voting FOR permission, 10 Councillors voting AGAINST permission and 2 Councillors ABSTAINING from voting.

 

Cllr Cowper proposed the following reason for refusal.

 

The application is not supported by sufficient information to satisfactorily demonstrate that the requirements of policy CP16 of the East Hampshire District Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy and policies SD23 and SD43 of the emerging South Downs Local Plan have been met.  Specifically, it has not been satisfactorily demonstrated that:

 

·         the community facility (public house) and associated tourist accommodation use is no longer required;

·         there are alternative facilities which are easily accessible for the community;

·         through a rigorous marketing exercise that the existing public house / tourist accommodation use is no longer viable and that all reasonable efforts have been made to retain it; and

·         there is no market demand for the existing use or an equivalent community or tourism use.

 

In consequence, the proposal would result in the loss of a community facility and associated visitor accommodation, to the detriment of the local community, and contrary to the aims of policy CP16 of the East Hampshire District Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy and policies SD23 and SD43 of the emerging South Downs Local Plan.

 

This was seconded by Cllr Phillips.

 

Following the vote, the proposal was declared CARRIED, 11 Councillors voting FOR refusal, no Councillors voting AGAINST refusal and 2 Councillors ABSTAINING from voting.

 

Cllr Ashcroft re-joined the meeting.

 

The meeting adjourned at 8.10pm.

 

The meeting reconvened at 8.20pm.

Supporting documents: