Champagne celebrations as council rejects demolition of much-loved pub

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 May 2019

Campaigners celebrating planning permission being refused for Lord Nelson at Cleeve to be turned into petrol station.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Campaigners celebrating planning permission being refused for Lord Nelson at Cleeve to be turned into petrol station. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Archant

Champagne corks were sent flying after plans which would have 'spoiled' a village by demolishing its former pub have been torn up.

Ian Fergusson, spokesman for the Friends Nelson Group.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONIan Fergusson, spokesman for the Friends Nelson Group. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

North Somerset Council has refused Tout Ltd planning permission to raze Cleeve's Lord Nelson and replace it with a petrol station, convenience store and pub café after reviewing the controversial blueprints for more than a year.

The Friends Nelson Group, which was set up to fight the demolition, celebrated the decision in style on Pound Green opposite the decaying pub on Saturday.

The boarded-up watering hole closed in late 2016 before being swiftly snapped up by Tout.

The proposals were met with widespread concern by villagers who feared the development's impact on the environment, traffic and neighbours.

The campaigners' efforts, which saw the building listed as a 'local heritage asset', have helped stave off the bulldozers - for now, but Tout Ltd has not given up yet.

In March, managing director Jon Tout revealed the business had all but given up hope of convincing the council - arguing the plans would only get a 'fair hearing' at a Government inquiry.

This week, he reiterated his intention to appeal the decision.

He said: "It's extraordinary we have had to initiate the refusal process in order to finally get the application in front of an independent inspector. We have begun preparing the evidence we will submit at the appeal."

But Ian Fergusson, Friends Nelson Group spokesman, urged Tout to think again.

He said: "We are relieved and hope for a proposal to sensitively conserve and re-use the building to create a multi-use community hub, including a pub. We hope the owner adopts this approach, which would garner support.

"The decision recognises the proposal would have spoiled our village setting and threatened protected wildlife.

"This project was a clearly unsustainable proposition, one at odds with environmental priorities of 2019 and beyond.

"The survival of pubs and their irreplaceable heritage deserves better than this buccaneering approach by developers.

"They claim every pub they grab as 'unviable' to justify wiping them off the map. This tactic is a nationwide scourge and our village was determined to take a stand against it."

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