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Locals angry over pub plans

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:40 01 August 2010

A COMMUNITY has been left divided after plans to turn a derelict pub into a house were recommended for approval by the parish council.

Locals have expressed their anger after members of Langley with Hardley Parish Council voted by a five-to-one majority in favour of plans to convert the former Wherry Inn at Langley Staithe.

A COMMUNITY has been left divided after plans to turn a derelict pub into a house were recommended for approval by the parish council.

Locals have expressed their anger after members of Langley with Hardley Parish Council voted by a five-to-one majority in favour of plans to convert the former Wherry Inn at Langley Staithe.

The building is owned by former parish council chairman Gary Hayes, who resigned as a council member before Monday's meeting began.

About 30 people, most of whom were in favour of retaining the pub, attended the meeting, and many were left fuming after the vote was taken

Sam Frost, the parish council's vice- chairman - who voted against the proposal - said: “I feel that people have been let down by the parish council.

“I think members of our community have thrown away the crown jewels of the village. After the meeting, people were outraged, and I rang someone and said this would split the village for years.”

Farmer Jimmy Lutkin said: “I was at the meeting, which was packed. I have asked to buy the pub on several occasions but the answer has been no.

“Everybody is in a state about it.”

And villager Jon Lees said: “The vote was carried out in an unfortunate way. There was no show of hands, and the result had to be requested from the floor after the council had moved on to the next item.

“Any decision to approve the appli-cation runs counter to local opinion and the South Norfolk Development Plan, particularly in relation to tourism.”

A previous application to turn the pub into a house was rejected by South Norfolk Council in 2006. The district council will have the final say on the latest scheme.

Local people claimed this week that a lease for the pub had been set at a ridiculous price - an opinion disputed by Derek Blake, district councillor for Langley with Hardley, who said it had been agreed by the district council and district valuer.

Mr Blake added: “If there were either an individual or a collection of individuals who could come together in the village and put the money up for the lease, that would be a wonderful situation.”

He said all the issues would be reassessed at a future district council area planning committee meeting.

Parish council chairman Chris Townsend insisted: “The village didn't support the pub. When I used to go in on a Sunday lunchtime there was nobody in there.

“The parish council didn't shut the pub; the pub has been shut for six years and was closed when Gary bought it. If accusations are being levelled that this was a done deal or underhand, then that is absolute rubbish.

“At the meeting Gary wanted to sit in the public gallery. We told him that if he wanted to be in the room and hear the argument his only option would be to resign.”

Mr Hayes was unavailable for comment later.

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