This report should have appeared yesterday but Councillor Philip Read got in the way. The Coach and Horses on the edge of Bexley village, but within the Conservation Area, has been in difficulties and anyone harbouring hopes of a new beginning can kiss that idea goodbye.
On Thursday evening Bexley Council gave the pub owner permission to extend and convert it into flats. I had hoped to get to the meeting but by the time I got back from Newham it was too late, I decided to watch the webcast instead.
External modifications will be minimal, chimneys will be retained and there will be seven parking spaces for six flats.
The only public speaker said the pub had been up for sale for eight years because it is not a viable business. Unlike The Charlotte in Crayford is has not been accredited as ‘a Community Asset’. The ‘drinkers’ rights’ organisation CAMRA agreed that the pub could not survive.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) thought it was sad to see the pub go but there was no real alternative to a change of use. She had some concerns about bin storage and the retention of the character of the building. She reminded the Committee of how Bexley Council made a pig’s ear of retaining the features of the Black Horse in Sidcup. She backed the application given the conditions imposed.
Councillor Gill MacDonald (Labour, Belvedere) was not quite as happy with the plan as Mrs. Slaughter. She said it was not the same sort of pub as those in the centre of the village, it employed a Cordon Bleu chef who could make more than just burgers.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) was curious about CAMRA’s report. What were their criteria? No one was sure, but on balance Councillor Leaf thought the applicant had done a good job. “We would be mad to refuse it”.
Councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) recommended that as no officer had seen the viability report the application should be deferred. Councillor Danny Hackett shared his view.
Councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) was concerned, as was Councillor Colin Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s), about a history of flooding following extreme rainfall but even more so about the absence of any information on CAMRA’s report. “Can we rely on an independent report being accurate?”
Councillor Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s) indicated that “the informative” is advisory and cannot be legally enforced. It was not clear to me whether he was referring to flooding issues or not.
Councillor Lynn Smith (UKIP, Blackfen & Lamorbey) queried the provision of only one electric car charging point. A Planning Officer said the current standard was 20% of parking bays should be so equipped. One charging point falls short of that.
The application was approved. The webcast gives no precise indication of the degree of any dissent but it would appear to have been small. Chairman Val Clark was, as you can see, very keen to encourage a Yes vote.