Council rejects application to turn pub into flats

The Witham Tavern.
The Witham Tavern.

Councillors have unanimously refused an application to turn the Witham Tavern, in Boston, to six apartments today (Tuesday).

It was made on the grounds that the development would lead to the loss of an ‘existing community or social facility’.

Boston Borough Council planning committee accepted the planning officer’s conclusion that there was insufficient evidence for there being ‘no longer a long-term need for the community facility in the area’.

The report also said the development would undermine the council’s long-term objective of promoting tourism and regenerating waterways.

Development control manager for the authority Paul Edwards pointed to several pieces of legislation within the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which supported the council’s decision.

He noted that the most recent price that the building had been offered for sale – a sum of £275,000 – was ‘not realistic’,

He said: “We think that the loss of this amenity is something which we are recommending the council resist.”

Coun Paul Gleeson, Malcolm Limbert of the Save The Witham Tavern Group and Lincolnshire County Coun Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright also defended the pub’s place in the local community.

Agent Chris Lilley, speaking on behalf of the owner Christine Guille, said he felt the proposal met the requirements of the NPPF and that it was also felt an Economic Viability Report submitted to the council provided the evidence needed that the Witham Tavern was unviable as a public house.

He argued that some of the objections put forward ‘have little to do with planning objections’.

He said the business had been marketed by Christies in 2011 and put for auction by Savilles in 2011.

He said the pub was closed for nine months and said seven previous owners, including the current owner, had failed to increase business.

A number of councillors on the committee also spoke in favour of refusing the application, including Couns Brian Rush and Jonathan Noble.