The application to demolish the Black Bull Inn, at Bowsden, about six miles south of Berwick, and build two four/five-bedroom houses on the site was approved at the Tuesday, July 7, meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.
The report to councillors states that it is understood the pub formally closed in 2014 and attempts since then to market it have been unsuccessful.
Ir will be replaced with two detached, two-storey, L-shaped properties, with each using one of the existing entrances to the site – one from the minor public road to the west and the other directly off Main Street.
It was recommended for approval as the planning officer concluded that the impacts, including on the character of the area, are acceptable, noting that independent verification has confirmed a pub would not be viable.
However, Bowsden Parish Council and the local ward member, Coun Roderick Lawrie, both objected, claiming the plot was too small for two houses and that they were not in keeping with the surrounding area in terms of scale and massing.
Other concerns included the orientation of one property to have its front facing inwards and the rear onto Main Street, although this was designed to mirror the layout of the pub.
Coun Richard Dodd said he hates to see a pub go, but also hates to see a derelict building left to rot. “I’ve always lived in the sticks. Losing a pub is like losing a good friend,” he added.
Coun Guy Renner-Thompson pointed out that there was a difference between pubs struggling at the moment due to coronavirus and those shut for some time.
He added that the pub was sold at auction ‘for not a lot of money’, so there was an opportunity for anyone interested in running the business.
Coun Trevor Thorne was the lone dissenting voice, accepting the pub wasn’t viable, but saying: “I feel these two houses, in terms of height, massing and design, do not fit in with the vernacular. The other big problem I have is the orientation.”
The proposals had been due to go before the North Northumberland Local Area Council in March, but the meeting was cancelled the day before as the coronavirus restrictions started to kick in.
It has now come to the strategic planning committee following the decision to suspend the powers of the five local area councils to deal with planning applications for six months.