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Campaign to save The Flying Pig pub in Cambridge launched - by the developer warning it may have to demolish it

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A campaign to save The Flying Pig pub in Cambridge has been launched by the company warning that the alternative is demolition.

Pace Investments is appealing a decision by Cambridge City Council to refuse permission for its office and retail scheme in Hills Road, which would have retained the much-loved pub, with some changes.

It has launched a campaign website - https://www.savetheflyingpig.co.uk/ - in support of the appeal.

If it fails, Pace says it will resort to a previously granted planning application it has for the site, which would involve demolition of the popular pub, with a different bar built inside another building instead.

City councillors went against council officers’ advice in rejecting the new scheme in March because they were unconvinced that the changes would have made the pub viable.

Committee chairman Cllr Martin Smart said he wanted to see a “clear package of measures in place for the future sustainability of The Flying Pig”, a pub famed for its live music.

Pub supporters had voiced concerns over changes to the space and layout, which would have led to the existing toilets and kitchen being demolished.

Pace says these changes were minor and the pub’s main trading area would be preserved, with a flat provided for the landlords.

In May, Pace gave the landlords Justine and Matt Hatfield, who have run the Flying Pig for the past 24 years, six months notice to leave, shrouding the pub’s future in further doubt. They are due to leave on October 27, with preparation work then due to start on site.

But the appeal and new campaign - which has taken pub supporters by surprise - raises the prospect that a modified Flying Pig could yet be maintained on the site.

Johnny Vincent, CEO of Pace Investments, told the Cambridge Independent: “In March 2021, against planning officers’ recommendation, the councillors on the planning committee refused consent.

How the Hills Road redevelopment will look under the Pace Investments plans. Picture: Pace Investments
How the Hills Road redevelopment will look under the Pace Investments plans. Picture: Pace Investments

“Without this permission, we are left with the extant planning permission on the site, obtained in 2007, which would see the Flying Pig demolished and the area redeveloped for flats.

“Despite their claims they were saving the Flying Pig, the council’s planning committee have blocked the only application which does this. As a result, we have chosen to appeal the decision. We are committed to ensuring the Flying Pig can continue and thrive.”

The Save the Flying Pig website asks visitors to sign a letter in support of the planning appeal, due to be heard by a planning inspector in January.

The letter says the plans will ensure the Flying Pig is “preserved and enhanced with greater accessibility so that everyone in Cambridge and further afield can visit this popular free house, and live music venue”.

It adds: “The wider proposals submitted will add £100m per annum to the Cambridge economy, while providing the most sustainable office space development that Cambridge has ever seen.”

The Hills Road site. Picture: Pace Investments
The Hills Road site. Picture: Pace Investments

Pace says the office development behind the Flying Pig will be built to BREEAM Outstanding criteria - a leading measure of energy efficiency and sustainability achieved by fewer than one per cent of buildings - with zero emissions. The buildings would also meet WELL Platinum standard, the highest measure from the health and wellbeing scheme.

The proposals would involve the demolition of Betjeman House, Broadcasting House, Ortona House, Francis House and the rear multi-storey car park to Francis House, and the construction of two new commercial buildings of five and seven storeys.

The company argues in its letter that the scheme will meet “pent-up demand for enterprise space in our great city, vital for the economic prosperity of Cambridge”.

Mr Vincent said the proposals for 104-112 Hills Road have evolved over the last three years and were informed by six days of public consultation and many pre-application meetings with stakeholders.

How the Hills Road redevelopment will look under the Pace Investments plans. Picture: Pace Investments
How the Hills Road redevelopment will look under the Pace Investments plans. Picture: Pace Investments

“The proposals create much-needed new office space, incubator space, restaurants, a café and preserved the pub with its own garden.

“Success at appeal will deliver the most sustainable, all-electric office space in Cambridge, preserve the pub, protect the Botanic Garden, create public realm and provide a campus for 2,500 people, in the heart of the city - 500m from the station.”

How the Flying Pig could look after redevelopment by Pace Investments. Picture: Pace Investments
How the Flying Pig could look after redevelopment by Pace Investments. Picture: Pace Investments

Responding to the launch of the campaign, musician Fabian Bonner, told the Cambridge Independent: “This Save the Flying Pig scheme is just an angle to pressure the council to go along with the appeal. It does not address the other factors involved in the decision.”

He said Pace Investment had previously said the Hatfields were “what makes the Pig work” yet they had been given notice.

“That is up at the end of this month and they will have to move out,” he said.

“This website is an insanely childish thing for Pace Investments to do and it’s not even sneaky - it’s really overt. The website hasn’t exactly stolen our thunder - plenty of people know the real story behind what is happening with the Flying Pig - but it does make communication more difficult for us.”

The better alternative, he said, would be for the developer to leave the pub alone in the scheme.

Campaigners behind the long-running Save the Flying Pig community campaign - active on Twitter @savethepignow - said they were concerned about confusion with their own campaign.

How the Flying Pig could look after redevelopment by Pace Investments. Picture: Picture: Pace Investments
How the Flying Pig could look after redevelopment by Pace Investments. Picture: Picture: Pace Investments

The pub has been described by supporters as unique in the city.

In a submission to the planning committee, Alistair Cook, pubs officer for Cambridge & District CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) said: “The Flying Pig is much-loved locally and far beyond for its structure, décor and ambiance, for its management and staff, for its live music and for its well kept beers. All these aspects blend together to create something without parallel elsewhere in Cambridge.”

The branch raised concerns over a lack of secure parking for the licensees and the fact that the office buildings behind would dwarf the pub and put its garden in shade. CAMRA also warned that during the development the pub would have to close for a significant period of time and the licensees would lose their home.

Mr Cook added in the submission: “Although addressing some of our previous concerns, the revised application, if granted, would still have a major negative impact on the Flying Pig and those who enjoy what it offers Cambridge, its people and its visitors.”

But Mr Vincent said: “There are some people that don’t want anything to change and we could not even begin to persuade those folks to see our side of the argument. And they are entitled to their argument and to say ‘I just want you to leave it well alone.’ But the reality is the other buildings on their site are coming to the end of their life. There is an opportunity to do something in Cambridge that has never been done - an environmentally-sustainable building that is all-electric.

“If you just leave it as it is, you cannot refurbish the site, because the pub garden goes out the back. It would be in a canyon between three or four-storey office buldings and would be awful. So the garden has to move 90 degrees to the left to keep the main body of the building. In reality, is it really too awful to modify the old WCs and the kitchen and rebuild them? People just think ‘you’re a developer, you’re a bad guy’.”

One of the council’s stated reasons for refusing planning permission was that “insufficient information” had been provided “to demonstrate that the proposed development would not adversely affect the viability of the Flying Pig contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework and parts (d) and (e) of policy 76 of the Cambridge Local Plan”. The council also cited “the impact on the Botanic Gardens by its height and scale” as a reason for refusal.

Read more

Plans for Flying Pig pub in Cambridge rejected by councillors

Uncertain future for The Flying Pig pub in Cambridge as landlords given six months to leave

Craig Bennett: Let’s get together and save The Flying Pig pub in Cambridge

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