Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The adage “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is going” has its roots in the bible – Matthew 6:3 – where it forms part of the Sermon on the Mount.
And it seems that Worst Street has found these words worth heeding in its ambivalent dithering concerning the Grade II listed Witham Tavern pub, which is in the Boston Conservation Area.
Readers will recall that late last year a group of enthusiasts sought to have the pub declared an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act after an application to convert it to six apartments.
Worst Street had not received such an application before, and instead of being big and bold and brave and grasping the nettle, it chose to invite someone from neighbouring East Lindsey District Council to do the job instead.
A representative from the group fighting to save the pub told Boston Eye that the council acted “shamefully” regarding the application – consulting only the owner of the pub, and none of the 21 people who had signed the ACV application before rejecting it.
The ELDC officer spoke of lack of support from the community and said that whilst the nomination referred to the pub’s prime position to attract tourism and this did not mean that it played a role in furthering the social well-being or interests of the local community.
The change of use application had been withdrawn before this and has reappeared at today’s Planning Committee meeting.
And guess what?
It has been recommended for refusal.
Since the application was first submitted 51 letters have been sent opposing the scheme with one supporting the application. Sixteen were received which did not have any address indicated.
By contrast the previous application for a similar scheme last year attracted just letters of opposition.
Not only have the numbers changed, but also the tune being played by Worst Street,
The report to today’s meeting declares: “The conversion of a public house represents a loss of a community facility which is normally resisted … 
“The Local Plan’s strategy is to revitalise all of the borough’s communities by boosting the local economy and promoting housing development where appropriate, but equally important is the retention of the existing community facilities.”
The huge increase in opposition to the scheme is described as a “significant” difference to the previous application and is a relevant material consideration. “It demonstrates perhaps that the loss of the public house will have a significant effect upon the needs of the local community according to that local community” says the report to today’s meeting.
It adds: “This level of opposition on valid planning grounds to this scheme is a material consideration and perhaps provides some evidence to suggest that although the Witham Tavern Public House has not been placed on the List of Assets of Community Value, according to the community it still has a significant role to play to meet that community’s needs and is a valued asset to the community.”
The report also rubbished the earlier ACV interpretation, saying: “Although the association with the marina may be only as a result of its physical location it is almost anecdotally a reason to assume the Tavern has a role for leisure and tourism. “
It says that many objectors – including   those from local businesses – consider that the loss of this riverside public house will have a ‘knock on’ effect on other businesses and the local tourist trade.
And says that the development would undermine the council’s long term aim of promoting tourism and the regeneration of the waterways.

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