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Pub to become houses despite Cllrs attempts to block
A PUB is to be transformed into residential properties after council chiefs were left powerless to stop the plan from going through.
The Live and Let Live in Booker Common will be extended and converted into a residential dwelling, with two further properties - a two bed bungalow and three bed detached house - to be built on the car park.
The proposal divided members of Wycombe District Council’s planning committee, with a six-six voting split and one abstention.
Reluctantly making the deciding vote, Chairman Cllr Neil Marshall said: "I don’t believe we have made a good enough case for refusal".
The drama followed a passionate debate in the council chamber, with members accusing the pub’s owners of "deliberately running down" the former watering hole in a bid to make a profit from the property market.
Cllr Tony Green suggested the pub should have been named the "Leave and Let Die" and called the plan "speculative development at its worst".
Members told last Wednesday’s meeting that they felt the pub had "not been marketed as a going concern" and feared this "growing problem" of pub closures would have a detrimental effect on the community.
These claims were refuted by applicant James Noble, who stated during public speaking that the pub had not been profitable, despite attempts by numerous landlords, and there had been no interest in taking it over.
Cllr Simon Parker revealed he sent out 200 letters to residents asking them what they thought of the proposals. He received 20 back, with 17 pleading for the pub to be reopened and not one backing the plan.
One of the replies came from a man who said he was born in the pub in 1945 and whose family ran the boozer between 1903 and 1968.
Cllr Parker said the man was left "heartbroken" after a recent visit to the derelict site, which has been vandalised and stands empty.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, chair of the Save the Pub Group, warned Cllr Parker that if the pub closed it would be ‘permanently lost to the community’.
But despite the majority of councillors seemingly against the proposals, it did not contravene the council’s own planning policies, effectively tying members’ hands.
WDC’s development manager Alastair Nicholson said the council would "expose themselves to costs" at appeal if members attempted to reject the plan by giving the reason of 'protecting a community facility'.
The council planning officer’s recommendation for approval was put to members, who were divided, before Cllr Marshall made the final decision.
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