House application rejected as loss of St Neots pub would be 'harmful'

Planners have refused an application to convert The Chequers pub in St Neots into a family home.

Planners have refused an application to convert The Chequers pub in St Neots into a family home. - Credit: HUNTS POST

Converting an Eynesbury pub and restaurant into a private home would cause “significant and demonstrable harm”, planners have said.

Huntingdonshire District Council rejected the principle of changing the use of the Grade II listed Chequers Inn in St Mary’s Street, saying the move would lead to the loss of another pub with no public benefit.

Planners also raised concerns about the future of the former beer garden area which was not included in the proposed conversion to a private home.

The applicants have said the pub had been struggling as a result of competition from other pubs and eateries in St Neots.

In rejecting the principle of a change, planners said: “The application has failed to demonstrate that the loss of the community facility and its associated social, recreational and cultural benefits, is outweighed by the provision of a single private dwelling.

“The proposal has failed to demonstrate that the site has been effectively and robustly marketed for its current use without success for a continuous period of 12 months.”

They felt the move was unlikely to have an impact on the appearance of St Neots Conservation Area.

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But planners said: “However, the building does appear to have been a public house since at least 1854 when the ‘History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Huntingdonshire’ records show John Mays as being innkeeper of the ‘Chequers’ in Eynesbury.

“The loss of yet another local pub and its conversion to a dwelling is considered to impact on the character of the conservation area.”

They added: “The loss of this important community facility, and its historic/heritage interest as a public house, with no public benefit is not outweighed by the provision of a single private dwelling.

“It is concluded that the proposal is considered to constitute significant and demonstrable harm which would outweigh the benefits of the proposal.”

The application said the tenant did not want to take on a further lease "against the background that over the past 15 years the viability of the Chequers as a restaurant and public house has diminished due to the significant increase in the number and nature of new eating places in St Neots town centre...which have a better footfall.

“The property is currently being marketed but with the significant competition and viability difficulties, it is considered the conversion of the property to a residential dwelling represents the best option that will secure a viable and functional use for the property.”

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