One agent is still advertising the site at £400,000.
The 1920’s public house was sold by Admiral Taverns ‘behind closed doors’ without it being made available to any local purchasers, before the new owner was then allowed by Basingstoke and Deane Council to send the bulldozers in. The developer subsequently obtained planning permission for five dwellings, adding value to the vacant land.Local amenity lost
The result was both loss of a community amenity and loss of a building of recognised character, and a campaign that was fought strongly by local Councillors, many residents, and the Campaign for Real Ale.
Although one resident now publicly claims the campaigners could now purchase the site, it is respectably pointed out by a spokesperson for the campaign group that the historic public house is no longer there! It is also believed that on clearance the original planning use was extinguished.
Mud, weeds and fly posting
The site is presently mud and weeds, and looks tatty due to the illegal fly posting on the hoarding advertising some out-of-date events, a website and even some of the Borough Council’s own notices. A condition of the planning consent outlawed this as it makes the area look scruffy and even more unkempt.
However the whole issue does raise the importance of campaigning for the law to allow that local people be given the opportunity to take on amenities when under threat. In particular there is also need for a Neighbourhood Plan which will be able to make use of the Localism legislation.
The Town Council has agreed that efforts must be made to ensure such planning policies are set in place, which in the case of the Harvest Home could have led to it being placed on the open market prior to a private sale.
A Neighbourhood Plan is all the more important given that Basingstoke and Deane’s housing policies have been deemed illegal by the High Court and are presently having to be reassessed.
Embracing all interests and opinions
The Town Council’s Development Committee has been working with Basingstoke and Deane and will be ascertaining whether an informal planning forum might be possible. They are also very aware of the need to embrace “all areas of community interest and opinions”.
The Town Council has endorsed the production of a Neighbourhood Plan in principle and it will be discussed fully at the next full Council Meeting, which is at 7.30pm on 2nd July in the Town Hall Council Chamber.
Details of the Town Council meeting are on their website.