Plans to convert Biggleswade's Red Lion pub into house thrown out on appeal

The Red Lion in Biggleswade. PIC: Google MapsThe Red Lion in Biggleswade. PIC: Google Maps
The Red Lion in Biggleswade. PIC: Google Maps
Central Beds Council had refused permission for the scheme in 2022

Plans to convert a Grade II listed Biggleswade pub into a residential property have been dismissed on appeal.

Appellant Terry Elliott wanted to convert the Red Lion pub in London Road into a house and turn an outbuilding into a garage and storage space.

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A planning inspector noted there appeared to be “an internal reorganisation” of the vacant premises recently, according to his report. “These works don’t accord with the proposed plans and drawings submitted as part of a combined application for planning permission and listed building consent,” said the report.

“There’s no evidence to indicate these works are lawful. In the absence of any revised proposals, my decisions are based on the development as shown on the plans and drawings accompanying the appeals.

“Before its closure, it’s clear The Red Lion was of considerable value to the town’s residents. I appreciate the premises isn’t formally listed as an asset of community value, but the lack of such status doesn’t diminish its role as a valued facility for planning purposes.

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“The fact it was subject to a noise abatement notice in October 2011 doesn’t alter my view, as the business seems to have operated for a number of years subsequently without issue. Allowing the appeal would draw a line under more than 300 years of community use as a pub.

“I find that the proposal would result in the loss of a valued community facility without sufficient justification,” explained the inspector. “I find the proposed change of use would have a harmful effect on the vitality and viability of the town centre.

“As a 17th century building of traditional construction, the appeal site makes a significant contribution to the appearance of the conservation area. It 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.

“Despite the identified harm to the listed building, the proposals wouldn’t substantially alter the external appearance of the building. There would be no appreciable impact on the character or appearance of the conservation area as a whole.

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“The proposals would provide an extra property in an area with good access to town centre facilities, making a positive contribution to the local housing supply.

“Economic and social benefits would accrue through the construction and subsequent occupation of the premises,” added the inspector. “The removal of the modern 20th century flat roofed extensions at the back could result in a heritage benefit.

“This development would renovate a vacant listed building, potentially securing its long-term future. But there’s no evidence of it being the only viable use for the property.

“This project would fail to preserve the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building, and wouldn’t provide satisfactory living conditions for future occupants,” concluded the inspector.

“These proposals aren’t harmful to the town conservation area, but would conflict with the Biggleswade Neighbourhood Plan and CBC’s Local Plan policies.”