Pub to be demolished for shop, café and fuel station?

The Lord Nelson Pub at Cleeve.

The Lord Nelson Pub at Cleeve. - Credit: Archant

Cleeve’s historic Lord Nelson pub will be knocked down and replaced with a supermarket, a petrol station and a pub café – if owner Tout Ltd’s proposals are materialised.

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson.

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson. - Credit: Archant

The pub closed in November after Greene King sold the site, which operated under Hungry Horse branding.

Villagers eagerly awaited managing director Jon Tout’s initial proposals for the site at a heated parish council meeting this week.

He revealed the Lord Nelson building will be demolished to make way for new two-storey complex which will feature a four-island petrol station, a 4,000sqft Budgens store, a ‘family friendly’ pub café, plus a beauty spa and hair salon.

Mr Tout admitted the plans were not viable without a petrol station, and his contingency plan is to develop the site for housing if planning permission cannot be secured.

Mr Tout confirmed the efforts of the campaign to save the pub, which earned asset of community value (ACV) status from North Somerset Council, motivated him to include a pub café in his proposals, but the existing model was not viable.

He said: “It’s not going to be an old-fashioned drinkers pub. It will appeal to those people but that’s not all it will be.

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“We’re not going to promote the negative sides of pubs and drinking, instead we are going to promote the positive – which is a warm, cosy meeting place for people to enjoy.”

Mr Tout also confirmed he plans to relocate the company’s head office from Cheddar to Cleeve.

He added: “This will bring upwards of 100 jobs to Cleeve and the surrounding area.

“It’s a brilliant location for us and it will bring high-level jobs to the village.

“We want to use the historical feel of the Lord Nelson and bring it into the 21st century in the best way we can.”

But residents responded with a number of concerns including noise, lighting and a detrimental impact to traffic and house prices.

Spokesman for the campaign to save the pub, Ian Fergusson, said: “We are grateful to Jon Tout for including a pub-style establishment within his plans.

“Residents will now need to weigh up the likely long-term impacts on Cleeve, versus perceived positives.

“The wider issues are likely to focus on resident concerns towards any filling station as part of the plan, plus objections to the demolition of the iconic 1936 pub and its garden.

“Mr Tout has made clear that any planning refusal of a filling station means he will instead seek to convert the site into housing, with no pub being offered at all.

“However, both ACV status and council restrictions may ultimately mean a pub must also remain there, irrespective of any associated housing plans. So, what may eventually unfold is a high-profile test of the council’s mettle, in standing up for the preservation of village pubs they have designated as an ACV.”

Mr Fergusson revealed the option to agree a community purchase of the site if the plans fail to materialise was quashed by Tout Ltd.

He added: “This has disappointed residents who were willing to fund the purchase and hoping for some spirit of altruism from a local family-run business.”

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