Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Save The Golden Lion in Ashton Hayes

Save Our Golden Lion public house from the Developers

Hugo’s personal thoughts on CWaC application No 16/03176/FUL

The Golden Lion sits in the centre of Ashton Hayes and was extremely popular with locals and visitors for many years; the pub won numerous national awards including the much coveted “Greenhalls Pub of The Year” for a number of years running. Sadly the pub has been closed for a number of years now having been bought by a developer. However the community has held a long term aspiration that it will be able to purchase the property and reopen it as a community pub. This aspiration is clearly evidenced through the Golden Lion having been registered as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ some years ago by the residents of Ashton Hayes.

The current owner, Mr John Miller a local property developer, has submitted a second planning application on the property. The first one (Ref No 12/04887/FUL) proposing two houses to built on the car park of the GL failed to reach approval stage, now we as a community, are having to fight another application for two houses, again on the car park, plus the conversion of the pub itself in to three residential dwellings (Ref. No: 16/03176/FUL). Our community hub, the geographical and the strategic heart of our village is potentially going to be stripped from us and all future members of this exceptional community, forever.

So, if people who feel strongly about this proposal and who will be affected by the proposal, wish to engage in the formal consultation process, as part of this current planning application and its associated consultation, what can they do?

You will need to register and ‘log in’ in order to make any comments here. If you have any problems in completing this you could contact the Planning Officer allocated to determine this application directly at her email address please do try the on line method first. Also please note the closing date for comments on this application which is the 13th of Sep 2016. You can also contact the CWaC Ward Cllr for the Ashton Hayes, Cllr Eleanor Johnson at

It is very easy for all of us to become subjective and to get emotionally involved when commenting on such important planning applications. But a word of warning, only comments which are considered to be Material to the Application can be considered by the Planning Officers. By way of what I hope is useful guidance I have listed below some examples of what might and what might not be considered as Material Considerations, this is not an exhaustive list.

Material considerations are many and are extraordinarily varied. They include all the fundamental factors involved in land-use planning, such as:

• The number, size, layout, siting, density, design and external appearance of buildings,
• The proposed means of access,
• Landscaping,
• Impact on the neighbourhood (including loss of amenity) and the availability of infrastructure.

Examples of factors that ‘may’ be taken into account as material considerations in the decision making process include:-

• Planning history of the site • Overshadowing • Overlooking and loss of privacy • Adequate parking and servicing • Overbearing nature of proposal • Loss of trees • Loss of ecological habitats • Archaeology • Loss of a facility of value to the community • Contamination by a previous use • Effect on Listed Building(s), Green Belt & Conservation Areas • Access and highways safety • Traffic generation • Noise and disturbance from the scheme • Disturbance from smells • Public visual amenity • Flood risk • Planning gain

Examples of factors that ‘cannot normally’ be considered as material planning considerations are:-

• Loss of value to an individual property • Loss of a private individual’s view • Boundary disputes, including encroachment of foundations or gutters • Private covenants or agreements • The applicant’s personal conduct or history • The applicant’s motives • Potential profit for the applicant or from the application • Private rights to light • Private rights of way • Damage to property • Loss of trade to individual competitors • Age, health, status, background and work patterns of the objector • Time taken to do the work • Building and structural techniques • Matters covered by other statute • Alcohol or gaming licence

In this case it is likely that the Planning Officers decision will focus quite heavily on the potential future commercial viability of this important community asset, the village pub, in particular whether or not the market has been tested sufficiently to demonstrate that the building & business is no longer viable in its current guise. There has been a similar refusal of an application and the subsequent appeal that was also refused, earlier this year on the outskirts of Chester, and I would encourage you to read it here before making any comments on this current application at the Golden Lion. You can access the report via the link below:

If you have any problem accessing the link, a Google search of the complete Case Ref No below should also take you to the Inspectors report.


As previously mentioned, The Golden Lion pub is now registered with CWaC as an asset of community value (ACV) under the Localism Act of 2011. If the property were to be put up for sale, the community would have 6 months to raise funds in order to bid for the pub. During that time the pub cannot legally be sold to another purchaser.  There are currently 31 community owned pubs and over 100 others that have been registered as ACVs.  Examples are The Raven in Llanarmon Yn Ial, Mold, The Butchers Arms in Crosby, Ravensworth, the George & Dragon in Hudswell, Yorkshire, The Bevendean in Brighton and The Ivy House in London.  The longest established, the Red Lion in Hertfordshire, has been going for 30 years!

The current owner has closed the pub and allowed it to begin to fall in to disrepair, the more cynical amongst you may think this is to lessen its value as going concern should this value ever be tested on the open market. The key point here is that it has not been tested. If it had been, the community would have course attempted to raise the funds required to bid for it and run it as a Community Asset.

This important point to one side, let’s also take a look at what specific planning policies may be relevant to this case and you may want to consider when deciding on your comments to put forward.

Retained Policy CU1 of the Chester District Local Plan supports the retention of buildings which make an important contribution to the cultural, social, economic and street life of the (former) District.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires Councils to plan positively for the provision and use of community facilities (including public houses) to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments, and guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities, particularly where this would reduce the community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs. 

Policy ECON2 of the CWAC Local Plan (Part 1) reflects these requirements.     

Overall, the policy tests’ broadly’ translate to:

1. Whether the proposal would result in the loss of a facility of value to the community;

2. Whether the site is capable of having a continued viable use as a public house;

3. Whether there is a need for the type of residential accommodation proposed; and

4. Whether the proposal would provide a building of equivalent value. 

The above is taken from the relatively recent application, 15/04757/FUL – referred to above and relating to the Centurion public house in Vicars Cross which was refused and an appeal dismissed.

You may not have access yourself to the internet, or may know someone who does not, but would like to comment on the application under discussion here. You can of course write directly to the Planning Dept quoting the planning Ref. No: 16/03176/FUL at the following address: Planning Department, Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 0BE. Again please be aware of the deadline for submitting comments which is 13th of Sep 2016.

Please feel free to forward this personal Blog on to anyone you think might be interested, either in hard copy or electronically.

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