Campaigners fighting for Lord Nelson call on ‘icon’ to be saved

Campaigners celebrating planning permission being refused for Lord Nelson at Cleeve to be turned int

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

Campaigners fighting to protect a closed pub being bulldozed believe its historic significance should not be sacrificed for the benefit of a commercial venture.

It is three years since the Lord Nelson, in Cleeve, was shut by then owners Greene King, with just 48 hours' notice.

Tout Ltd has since purchased the site and it wants to demolish the old building and build a petrol station in its place.

The scheme was refused by North Somerset Council but Tout, which runs the Budgens store in Langford, has taken the matter to an appeal. A Government inspector will hear the case next year.

The Friends Nelson Group - set up to try to ward off the site's redevelopment - has put forward its case.

It said: "The Lord Nelson is a standout, conspicuous component of Cleeve's historic built fabric. It is a local iconic landmark well-known by many across the West Country, and with considerable local historical interest.

"By definition, the local historic value of the Lord Nelson as a heritage asset will increase every decade. Its permanent loss to future generations as a consequence of the proposed development - which may in itself have a limited life, given its focus on fossil fuel sales - is neither warranted nor desirable."

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Campaigners did try to have the Lord Nelson listed as a building of historical significance, but Historic England refused.

Tout wants to create a café, salon and offices on the site.

Its managing director, Jon Tout, previously said the appeal is the only way the company would get a 'fair hearing' on its plan.

The Friends Nelson Group added: "The Lord Nelson is irreplaceable, within the built fabric of Cleeve and indeed along the entire A370.

"By contrast, the appellant's bland, uninspiring modern scheme is decidedly undistinguished. Irrespective of whatever benefits it claims to yield from its proposal, they do not outweigh the permanent loss of this iconic building that embodies the very identity of Cleeve village and its history since 1935.

"The Lord Nelson is quite capable of being preserved and sympathetically modified for a range of uses, including a smaller pub, convenience store, salons and offices.

"Why the appellant never once entertained such a solution, which would defuse much public angst, is an imponderable."