Bythorn residents win fight to save village pub

VILLAGERS who fought against a bid to turn their last remaining (albeit derelict) pub into homes say they are delighted to have won the fight.

The new owners of The White Hart applied for a change of use for the building after the venue was gutted by fire earlier this year.

Landlords said severe damage to the Grade II-listed building made it “unviable” as a business.

However, Huntingdonshire District Council ruled: “This public house is only one of its kind in the village”.

They also said it had been “an important facility to local residents”.

“A change of use would be premature given that the opportunity to operate this business has not been given to others through re-marketing,” officers added.

“The use of the building as a pub ensures the wider public are able to benefit from this heritage asset.”

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Laurie Grundy, clerk of Bythorn and Keyston Parish Council, said: “The village history is wrapped up in the pub. We just didn’t want to see it go.”

Alison Hutchinson, representing the owners for Taylor Vinters Solicitors, said The White Hart would need to be a “high specification destination public house and restaurant” if restored.

“It has also become clear that with the added costs of restoring the building because of the fire, and the higher costs associated with dealing with a listed building, that such a venture is unviable,” she said.

However, Mr Grundy said the parish council questioned figures used to show the pub would struggle to make a profit.

“If you aim for the right market, there’s no reason why it can’t be successful,” he said.

HDC added: “The continued use of the building as a pub provides Bythorn with a sense of place and could, given the opportunity, help contribute to providing a sustainable community and contribution to the pursuit of economic vitality.”