Dismay as former pub goes on sale as a home

The Bell Inn, Hook Norton
The Bell Inn, Hook Norton

A historic former village pub converted into a luxury, seven-bedroom home has been put on the market with an eye-watering price tag of £895,000.

The news draws to the close a long-running controversy over the future of the The Bell Inn in High Street, Hook Norton, and will dismay residents who campaigned to preserve the 17th century grade II listed public house as an asset of community value. A pub is believed to have existed on the site for about 300 years.

The sale of the 3,800 sq ft house is being managed by estate agents Knight Frank, who praise the “substantial” property’s “extensive accommodation, period features and secluded gardens” and highlight the good rail and road links to Oxford and London.

The house is currently under offer. Emma Kane, chairman of Hook Norton Parish Council, expressed her dismay at the news.

She said: “We have known ever since the change of use was passed it has been the inevitable conclusion. It is a shame the community will lose such a valued community amenity in this way.” Villagers had succeeded in campaigning against a previous application to convert the pub into a dwelling in 2011 when the pub was put up for sale by Punch Taverns in £325,000.

In 2012 the Bell Inn was purchased by new owner William Shapland who closed the pub and converted it into a photocopying shop, a change of use which did not require planning permission.

In December last year a council officer used delegated powers to approve the change of use from a commercial space into a house.

The decision provoked outrage among parish councillors with Peter Millar, a member of the council for almost 18 years, resigning in protest at the decision.

He said it showed without power to affect the outcome of the decision, the council was little more than “a fig leaf for a parody of democracy”.

Commenting on the news, Mr Millar said the sale is a “shameful piece of profiteering.” He said: “Hook Norton does not need a house that has seven bedrooms.

“I think it is a shame.”

A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council has said the Bell Inn has been removed from its list of Assets of Community Value as there is “no reasonable prospect” of the property returning to community use because of extensive internal modifications.