A GOVERNMENT planning inspector has declared that a village pub cannot be converted into housing after an appeal by its owners was dismissed.
Geoffrey and Jacqueline Noquet purchased the Bishop Blaize pub in Burdrop, near Sibford Gower, in February 2006 but closed it down just over a year later sparking anger from residents in the village.
The couple sought permission to use the pub as a dwelling but in February this year Cherwell District Council issued an enforcement notice stating the building must be used as a public house and could only be lived in if the main part of the premises continued to be used as such.
The Noquets lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate but it was thrown out on October 4.
In her decision notice, planning inspector Sara Morgan, who visited the pub during her enquiry, stated: “At the time of my site visit the ground floor had been converted almost entirely to residential purposes.
“The bar and most of the public house fittings had been removed and the whole building was in occupation as a dwelling house.”
She continued: “The main issue is whether the change of use enforced against accords with local and national policies related to the loss of community facilities.
“It is clear that the community in the Sibfords places a very high value on the Bishop Blaize as a public house.
“In the past it provided a community facility which could clearly be distinguished from the other, quite limited community facilities in the locality.
“The unauthorised change of use has led to the loss of this highly valued and needed local facility to the detriment of the sustainability of the local community.”
Ms Morgan said the decision would stand regardless of the fact that Mr and Mrs Noquet would be forced to move out of the pub.
She commented: “The serious harm to the wider public interest would outweigh the admittedly significant financial effects on Mr and Mrs Noquet if the appeal was dismissed.
“These financial effects would not be a disproportionate response to the breach of planning control.”
Mrs and Mrs Noquet did not wish to comment on the decision.