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Legal challenge threat over Chesham 'megapub'
VILLAGERS have threatened to take a council to court after plans for a 'megapub' moved a step closer to being given planning permission.
Members of Chiltern District Council's planning committee said on Thursday they were in favour of allowing a new pub to be built on the site of the disused Merritts car dealership between Chesham and Ashley Green.
The authority's head of planning will have the final say, but councillors were told legal action to stop building work going ahead would be launched.
Roger Watts, a member of Ashley Green Parish Council who spoke at the meeting, said: "We would apply for Judicial Review if this was considered for consent."
He and colleague John Axom both said the new pub, which would be owned and operated by national chain Marston's, would negatively affect Ashley Green's only pub, the Golden Eagle.
Cllr Watts said: "It couldn't possibly compete with the corporate building power of Marston's. It's a vital part of village life and to lose it would be to lose the heart of the village.
"A megapub is wholly out of character and of no benefit at all."
But committee member Cllr Julie Burton responded: "If the local people want to see the local pubs run still, they have to support it. They should go to their local pub they have supported all this time."
She added: "This site is an eyesore and I don't think this is a bad option. It certainly clears up the site and it's hopefully going to bring in lots of employment for lots of people."
Cllr Alan Hardie said: "I don't believe this is going to detract from the existing pub users."
Committee members had raised concerns about traffic exiting the proposed pub's car park onto Ashley Green Road, which forms part of the main A416, but no objections were raised by Highways officials.
The new pub would create around 50 full time and part time jobs, Michael Robson of Marston's told councillors.
He added the pub would not need door staff, nor would it seek to join any 'pubwatch' security scheme.
But Cllr Nik Stewert, the only committee member to oppose the plans when it came to the vote, said: "As a member of the British Institute of Innkeeping, I find it absolutely outrageous any brewer would consider not being a member of a pubwatch.
"I don't think this particular application is right for this site."
Councillors said however there were no legal planning reasons why permission for the development could not be given and voted to defer the plans for approval by eight votes to one.
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