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Appeal: ACV pub conversion allowed after botched sale

Property sale / iStock: 1130829500

A Hertfordshire pub can be converted into two homes despite being registered as an asset of community value (ACV), after an inspector ruled that it was ‘unlikely to prosper’ as a verbal agreement to sell it in 2017 had fallen through.

AUTHORITYEast Hertfordshire District Council

The appeal concerned The Green Man, a pub in the centre of the Hertfordshire village of Widford. The appellants sought permission to convert the building into two homes.

In a handwritten statement, the appellants explained that they had purchased the pub in 2008, when it had been stripped of its licence and damaged by flooding. After two months of work, they reopened it and found some initial success, serving food and hosting barbecues, birthday parties and other events.

By 2013, however, business had declined, and the appellants decided to put the pub up for sale, first with a national pub sales specialist, and then with a local agent – but no offers were received.

At the end of 2016, the appellants reached an agreement with a local couple for them to buy the pub, allowing them to move in before the sale had been completed. To the appellants’ “deep regret”, however, this was only a verbal agreement and the sale was never finalised. 

By the end of the following year, the would-be buyers had abandoned the pub, having removed or changed much of the equipment the appellants installed, including the oak bar and air conditioning units.

The appellants then decided to apply for permission to convert the premises into two homes. However, after a village meeting organised by the local parish council, 66 residents signed a petition to save the pub, and it was registered as an asset of community value at the end of 2018.

On his visit to the site, inspector David Wallis found that the pub still had all the facilities expected of a country pub. However, he considered that it had been on the market for a period of four years before the failed “short-term arrangement” in 2017. During that period, only six viewings were recorded, he noted, and no offers were made. Similarly, no offers had been received since ACV status had been granted.

Wallis concluded that “while the pub may be valued by the growing rural community ... it is unlikely to prosper”, and there was therefore “sufficient justification” for its conversion. The appeal was allowed.

The inspector’s report – case reference 3232537 – can be read here.

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