The Borough Council has responded to the concerns expressed by Whitchurch Town Council and their comments on the lack of consultation when buildings are under threat of demolition.

The situation was brought to the fore when campaigners discovered that the Harvest Home, and other local buildings of note, could be demolished without any need for a planning application for any subsequent use.

Local people locked out of consultation process...

If Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council were to use an Article 4 Direction as requested by local members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) it would allow for councillors to consider the historic nature and local importance of the building, and permit locals to comment on any planning application.
Presently the position taken by the Borough Council is preventing this.

LOW HERITAGE VALUE

In May, the B&DBC corporate director Karen Brimacombe said, “Because of the relatively low heritage value of the Harvest Home public house and the real risk of a high level of compensation, an Article 4 Direction should not be served in this case.”

Regrettably the Borough continues to refuse to use such a tool, claiming that it “would have resulted in a likely claim for compensation in the region of £100,000”.

Those campaigning strongly dispute this along with the figures that the Borough claims.
As far as has been determined no such claims have ever been made and any risks are effectively zero, while the Council’s figures used in their calculations have already shown to be incorrect.

Local resident and campaigner Andrew Reeves-Hall said, “The decision in May was based on inaccurate valuations: the report said that the pub value was £250,000 but it was sold for £300,000 — that immediately knocks £50,000 off their liability risk value. Furthermore, housing values have dropped and are not expected to recover soon. Thus, I think their liability risk is somewhere nearer to zero.”

The Town Council had told B&DBC that it appeared to them that “developers have found a way to exclude elected town councillors and local residents from the crucial early stages of consultation, thereby preventing us from active participation and influencing decisions that affect where we live and what we do.”

LACK OF PUBLIC INPUT

Mr.Reeves-Hall said, “Although her letter was quite long, Karen appears not to have directly addressed the serious concerns put to her by the Town Council regarding the lack of public input.”

He continued, “Karen deflected the council’s responsibilities onto developers by saying she ‘hopes’ that developers use the pre-application discussions and consultations to meet with locals.”

Meanwhile CAMRA is continuing to pressure the government to introduce laws that will prevent demolitions of such buildings without local consultation or planning consent, and remains hopeful for a positive response. Bob Neil MP, the Community Pubs Minister has agreed to issue guidance which will hopefully lead to greater protection.

The full letter can be seen on the Town Council’s website:
BASINGSTOKE RESPONDS TO TOWN COUNCIL CONCERNS

__________________________
Notes:
The developers of the Harvest Home put up a large wooden fence without planning permission and did not appear at the public meeting held in June. The B&DBC case officer is proposing the approval of BDB/74475 regarding the retrospective planning application for the large fence/hoarding – see item 2 on page 12 of the document HERE.

The developers will be able to demolish the property in late August pending approval by B&DBC of the proposed method to remove the Japanese Knotweed found on the site and information about the protection of the water course that runs behind the property, as detailed in the demolition notice BDB/74736, which you can comment on HERE.