A HISTORIC pub whose trading future has been a long-running dispute is now being considered as a private home – but local campaigners argue it should be preserved.

Mr and Mrs Byatt are applying for a change of The Swan pub, in Ley Hill, near Chesham, to residential use. 

There will also be two on-site parking spaces but “no internal or external alterations”, according to council documents.

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However, the proposed scheme is considered unacceptable and is recommended for refusal.

The council’s historic buildings officer objects because it will “preclude general access to members of the public”.

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PICTURED: A council made map of the local area 

The scheme would “not accord with adopted Local Plan policies”, the report also states.

Council officers also said the proposal ‘would not secure optimum use of the building’ and would be “detrimental to the community”.

However, despite a report commending the pub’s viability by local group Save Our Swan, a council surveyor said the pub is “unviable” other than as a “community owned and run venture or by a well-funded operator with significant cash reserves, where profit is not a major requirement”.

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Council officers described it as a “notably higher-than-average financial risk”, adding small pubs such as The Swan face the “highest risk of closure” due to the pandemic.

Objections to the Byatt’s plans have been received from 96 addresses, as well as from Save Our Swan and Ley Hill Community Pub.

Latimer and Ley Hill Parish Council said there is ‘no appetite’ for the change.

Some objectors say it is ‘detrimental to a listed building’ and would create a “loss of privacy”.

While another claims the owner “will consider a reasonable offer if this application is refused”, following local offers to buy and maintain the pub as a community asset.

Two letters support its return to residential use.

The site has been in use as a pub since at least 1843, prior to which it was three cottages. It is also directly next door to The Crown pub.

Previous interest for use of the building as a day nursery was refused.

Other applications include withdrawn requests for change of use to two dwellings.

An applicant report claims competition from The Crown and the nearby cricket club, and ‘macroeconomic factors’, explain a lack of buyers. Adding: “The Swan is no longer capable of operating profitably and is no longer saleable as a public house.”

A council surveyor said the asking price for the pub “was too high”.

The matter is due for debate during an East Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee, on Tuesday, March 9.

The recommendation is to refuse the application.

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