The adopted and proposed local plan makes provision for the protection of the last facility of its kind in a community.

Aylesbeare over the past few years has lost a shop, a school and does not have a post office. If it lost the pub, the ONLY remaining facility left would be its village hall.

For a village with well over 100 dwellings (excluding the dwellings in the outlying parish) this falls far short of what should be available.

I have seen from the objections that many people believe that the pub has been deliberately neglected, with little or no maintenance being carried out for years and opening hours becoming increasingly sporadic, with residents never knowing if the pub would be open or shut.

Juliet Muir makes a valid point that the accounts from the last three years cannot been seen as being reflective of the pub’s true viability and would of course show that the pub is not profitable because it is during this time that it has been neglected.

Not only that but there are reports of large Rottweiler dogs wandering around the pub and quite understandably, have put people off visiting.

A further major problem is that planning consent was given to build on the pretty pub garden, which surely must have had a negative impact on trade.

The new proposal would mean that SIX dwellings would be built on the site of the Aylesbeare Inn, which is significant overdevelopment in a village where houses are nicely spaced and the feel is very much of a rural quiet location.

In essence, it feels very much as though the pub site has been developed by stealth over the past few years and allowed to run down, with the inevitable outcome that it has become unviable. 

But with a different approach and a different owner, things could be very different.

I note that the conservation team has objected strongly, as have many other residents, to the design of the proposed new dwellings and wine bar.  I note that the team states that the design is “completely out of keeping with the character of the village.”  And that the pub is the focal point of the village and is of historic, social and community interest. It is over 400 years old and should not be knocked flat just because it has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

I note from Ann Turl’s comments that Halls and Halls Cottages are Grade II listed buildings and are right opposite the pub. For this reason, I believe that English Heritage should be consulted on any planning proposal for the Aylesbeare Inn site.

In conclusion I believe that there is evidence (from a wide range of sources) that the Aylesbeare Inn has been allowed to fall into disrepair, and has suffered from a lack of investment. The opening hours were sporadic before it was closed last year.  The accounts are not representative as they are only taken from three years, when the pub fell into disrepair and was at a time when Rottweiler dogs were wandering around the pub and deterring people from visiting.

In my view the applicant has not demonstrated the necessary planning requirement that the pub is unviable and its loss would reduce even further Aylesbeare’s services, leaving just the village hall for social occasions.  I am aware that the planning team has no jurisdiction over the proposals for a wine bar and if approved, the development could go ahead without it in any case.

This application should be refused.