CAMRA calls for Red Lion in Biggleswade to reopen after planning appeal to transform it to a home is thrown out

It wants the pub to go back on the market
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Campaigners battling to save Biggleswade’s historic town centre pub are celebrating after plans to develop it were rejected.

After a lengthy battle by campaigners and Biggleswade Town Council, the Planning Inspector has refused permission to turn the Grade II listed Red Lion pub into a private residence.

Following campaigning by Biggleswade Town Council and the East Bedfordshire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Inspector’s 6 February decision on the appeal by Elliott Builders was a reaffirmation of the important role pubs like the Red Lion play in the fabric of local communities, say CAMRA.

An appeal to turn the Red Lion into a private residence has been rejectedAn appeal to turn the Red Lion into a private residence has been rejected
An appeal to turn the Red Lion into a private residence has been rejected

The Inspector said: “It’s clear The Red Lion was of considerable value to the town’s residents before its untimely closure in 2019.” He added that as a 17th century building of traditional construction the Red Lion creates a sense of arrival to the town centre, along with its likely historic association as a coaching inn on the historic route of the Great North Road.

Local CAMRA Chair, Barry Price, welcomed the decision and said it was a vindication for local efforts to preserve a vital community asset. “I’m impressed by the thoroughness of the Planning Inspector’s report which amounts to a wholesale rejection of the grounds of appeal. What’s most important now is that Central Bedfordshire Council look carefully at the evidence of illegal alterations that have been made to the pub interior and that the owner makes these right. We know there’s been interest in returning the Red Lion to its role as a community pub so I hope that the next step will be to get it back on the market at a realistic price.”

Biggleswade Deputy Town Mayor, Mark Knight, added: “The planning inspector’s decision to dismiss the developer’s appeal was crucial in securing The Red Lion. It sends an essential message to property developers who think they can make a quick profit by converting our town’s historic public houses to private dwellings without the required planning consent. I call on enforcement officers at Central Bedfordshire Council to use their powers to ensure the owner restores the architectural features that were damaged or destroyed without authorisation. The historic pubs of Biggleswade are vital community assets.”