The latest stage in the demise of the Royal Oak is that an application has been made for a change of use to turn the remnants of the pub into three houses (Appln. no. 2873/18/FUL & see the Parish Council DOCUMENTS section on this website).
This application was extensively discussed at last evening’s Bigbury Parish Council meeting (10th October) and approved with a recommendation to provide a wider passing place for traffic in this bottleneck on the road to Bigbury-on-Sea. Anybody wishing to comment on this application will need to do so by October 19th via the SHDC planning portal.
Although the STROP (Save The Royal Oak Pub) group was always promised by the original owner (Hugh Ridgeway) that the pub would re-open on a small scale as the ‘bait in the trap’ for housing development on the car park, no condition was placed on the car park planning consent by SHDC to that effect – against the wishes of the STROP campaign. The ‘promise’ by the developers that the pub would be resurrected in a diminished form was only listed as a ‘consideration’ in the Planning Officer’s report which led to the application being granted for several houses to be built in the car park.
Time has moved on: being realistic, no rural pub could survive in that location with the inadequate parking now available.
It does not help that our application to make the pub an Asset of Community Value, when it first closed, was denied by SHDC – in the face of a professionally prepared counter-argument from the developer. There was no right of appeal. That ACV designation would have made it easier to use the building for some other community-related purpose and to argue against the current proposal for conversion to three houses.
Sadly, the STROP campaign foundered on the rock of unsympathetic bureaucracy.