SPPC Newsletter - December 2018

The Cock Public House - an update



The planning application submitted in August 2016 for 'change of use' from vacant pub to a 5-bed residential home was refused in October 2017. An appeal against this refusal was subsequently dismissed in June 2018. A second planning application, for a small shop and four dwellings also went to appeal and was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in November 2018.

To contest each of these planning applications and appeals, SPPC engaged a Planning for Pubs expert to collate the supporting evidence and to provide written submissions on behalf of the parish council. SPPC have been able to finance this from existing parish council funds.

The SPPC nomination for the Cock Inn to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) was successful in April 2018. In June 2018, the owner informed East Herts Council that the property is on the market and that, as the ACV stipulates, SPPC have the first option to make an offer for the pub, before a six-month moratorium ends in January 2019.

At the same time, the ACV listing was challenged by the owner of the site. East Herts Council subsequently reviewed their decision and in August 2018 the ACV listing was upheld.

In October 2018, SPPC were notified that the owner was raising a formal appeal against East Herts Council regarding the decision to list the Cock Inn as an ACV. This will be decided via a Hearing of the First Tier Tribunal of the General Regulatory Council in February 2019. SPPC consider the ACV listing to be vital to the future of the pub.

With evidence of support from the local community, SPPC is applying to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for borrowing approval. A loan from the Public Works Loan Board would enable SPPC to buy the Cock Inn at market value, to complete the necessary building work and to open for trade. The objective would be to have a friendly and welcoming freehold pub that serves guest and local beers and good quality, sensibly priced, freshly prepared food. SPPC also believes that the Cock Inn could be 'more than a pub', with the introduction of a range of amenities and services that will promote the well-being of the members of the local community.

Should the SPPC purchase of the Cock Inn go ahead, the parish council would select a tenant who has a proven record of establishing and running a food-led pub. Accommodation in the form a three-bedroom apartment on the first floor could be an attractive family home for the tenant. The rent paid by the tenant would provide the revenue for SPPC to repay the loan, and in due course if cash reserves permit, to improve the facilities for the benefit the local community. The project will not require an increase in the parish council precept.

A highly successful Pop-up Pub event took place in late September in the Village Hall. It was organised jointly by SPPC and the Stocking Pelham Village Hall Committee and was well-attended. A Save the Pub Action Group has subsequently been set up, to support the campaign to re-open the pub and to consider alternative buy-out options such as a community share-ownership scheme.