Controversy has resurfaced over Hook Norton’s historic Bell Inn pub with news that its owners have submitted a planning application to Cherwell District Council to change it into a house.
In 2011 villagers successfully campaigned against a planning application to transform the pub into a dwelling after it was given tacit approval by the parish council’s planning committe.
In 2012 the pub was purchased by new owners William and Zoe Shapland who said they had no immediate plans other than to carry out essential maintenance work on the 17th Century Grade II listed building. But the couple immediately closed the pub and removed the bar before transforming it temporarily into a photocopying shop, which did not require planning permission, before submitting the housing application last month.
Emma Kane, chair of Hook Norton Parish Council, called the plans a “cynical manipulation” of the planning process and said many villagers feel the pub is a great loss to the expanding village community.
She said: “It’s easier to get permission to transform a copy shop into a house than it is for a pub. I’m certainly not surprised an application has been submitted.”
Ms Kane has asked the council to call the plans before its full planning committee instead of being dealt with by an officer.