Councillors have opted to give time for one last try to be made at keeping a village pub open.
Plans to convert The Ten O’Clock pub in Main Street, Little Harrowden, into two homes were discussed by Wellingborough Council’s planning committee tonight (Wednesday, August 8).
Applicant John Barnes of Gorrell Barnes Chartered Surveyors spoke to the committee in support of the plans, telling councillors he had spoken to the county branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to discuss the pub’s viability.
Mr Barnes said: “The Chairman of CAMRA Northants confirmed 10 pubs a week are permanently closing.”
He also questioned whether it was realistic for a village the size of Little Harrowden “to support several drinking establishments” and said: “Some villages cannot support a pub at all. Our proposal allows the other pub in Little Harrowden and the Working Men’s Club to stand a much better change of remaining open.”
Mr Barnes said the Ten O’Clock pub building required substantial investment. He said: “I fully appreciate that the loss of any community building is an emotive subject to those that live in that community but the simple fact is the building has only remained open in recent years because of the owner’s leniancy on rent. I understand the owner has now become exasperated with the situation.”
Mr Barnes said this supported his argument that the pub was no longer viable to run.
But several councillors agreed they wanted to give one last chance for the pub to be saved before approving any development plans for the site.
Cllr Paul Bell said: “I have to say that it’s a shame that British pubs disappear, I can think of sitting in the council chamber and having a pub in my ward disappear and having to put a Compulsory Purchase Order on it.
“I wonder if it is worth deferring this for a couple of meetings to see if there is any possibility of it surviving as a pub?
“Maybe there is another organisation or pub chain that wants to take it on?”
Cllr Andrew Scarborough backed the idea to delay the decision-making. He said it would give an opportunity “to see if there are other options, commercial or community” and to see if proposals by Little Harrowden Parish Council to take on the building “had any legs”.
Cllr Scarborough added: “We owe at least that to the people of Little Harrowden.”
But Cllr Geoff Timms said he felt deferring the decision was just delaying the inevitable.
Cllr Timms said: “This has been going on for many, many months, I don’t see much hope of it opening as a pub. At the moment it’s up to the landlord to do what he wants with it.
“I think leaving it a couple of months is a waste of time.”
All of the councillors bar Cllr Timms, who abstained from voting, backed the motion to defer the matter while other options were explored.