THE fightback against Cirencester’s pub closures appears to have begun.
Members of Cotswold District Council have blocked a planning application to change the landmark Waggon and Horses into five flats.
Council officers had recommended the change the use of the London Road pub. But the planning committee refused to give it the go-ahead. The decision was supported by the majority, including the chairman.
Cllr David Fowles, who proposed that the application be refused, said: “Planning policy fails to protect on-the-edge-of-town pubs, which are regarded as having town centre locations but are not protected in the same way as town centre pubs or pubs in isolated rural locations.
“With the expansion of the town and the changing nature of the high street, it is critical to protect vital assets like pubs.”
“The argument that was used in the meeting by some members who wanted to grant change of use was that it would be good to have some small apartments to appeal to first-time buyers.
“Cirencester is not short of new houses, but it is short of places to eat and drink.”
In the last 20 years, eight pubs have closed in the town and been developed, leaving only 14 pubs.
The Waggon and Horses has been closed since January 2018 when its previous tenants’ lease expired.
James Brown, co-chairman of pubs and beer campaign group Camra’s Cirencester branch, spoke as an objector on the day.
He said: “I believe at the right price the Waggon would make an attractive opportunity for someone. I would ask the committee to consider at what stage in Cirencester does closing a pub not constitute a marginal loss, and what is the minimum number considered sufficient to offer the choice, accessibility and variety required.”
Rob Tough, Camra branch secretary, said: “There was an argument that there was no car park.
“Well, the majority of pubs in Cirencester have no car park and there is a huge public car park opposite. The Waggon and Horses is right by the Barn Theatre, which makes it an ideal venue for a pre or post theatre drink or meal.”