A councillor-owned Post Office that was once “the beating heart” of the Seer Green community has faced another blow, as early plans to turn it into housing were given the green light last week.

The newsagent’s and Post Office in Chalfont Road closed down more than a year ago, despite fierce opposition from scores of residents who passionately campaigned against the move.

On Thursday, October 4 plans to change the use of the building – owned by Chiltern District Councillor (CDC) for Seer Green, Siddharth Patel – from a shop to housing were given the nod by the council’s planning committee.

Fliss Coombs, who fought against the closure of the Post Office, called for the committee to refuse the plans as the site provides a “golden opportunity” for another business to flourish.

She said: “The closure of this business at the epicentre of the village has had a significant impact on sustainability, as all those people who used to queue at a busy post office counter are now forced on to the roads, to make previously unnecessary car journeys.

“In Seer Green one declining business or the decision to retire is a golden opportunity for someone else.

“One shop was home to several failed businesses before it was turned into a bustling and busy Pooch Parlour.

“The Jolly Cricketers was a failing business, with many of the same issues as the Patel’s property, yet this similarly tricky property is now an award-winning pub which is frequently featured in the national press.”

Seer Green Parish Council also strongly opposed plans, with councillor Liz Hungin stating it is their duty to “retain and support village assets to fulfil the local plan”.

A previous bid to change the use of the site was previously rejected by CDC’s planning committee, after the applicants “failed to provide evidence” that the store is commercially unviable.

The current plans have recieved almost 200 objections from concerned residents who hoped a business will continue operating at the site. 

During Thursday’s committee meeting, councillors appeared confused over the “unique” nature of the ‘prior approval’ application, with Cllr Peter Jones asking if the committee was even able to refuse it.

Prior approval is planning permission granted by government which allows certain work and changes of building use to be carried out without having to make a planning application, as long as certain conditions are adhered to.

The council’s legal team confirmed the plans were brought before the planning committee to maintain transparency, as the building is owned by a councillor.

However chairman of the committee, councillor Don Phillips, said while there was a lot of concern surrounding the plans, there are “limitations” as to what the council could do, as the conditions, such as proof there is still adequate shopping in the village, have been met.

He said: “We brought it in because there is a lot of concern about it. And that’s one of our functions – we need to be open and transparent.

“As you can see we have got 106 letters, so there is a lot of concern, a lot of phone calls, so we are certainly aware of the situation, but there are limitations in what we can do.

“I am sure around the table the members are sympathetic to the speakers tonight.”

Councillors approved the application.