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Concern north of Cottenham will never regain a pub as plans to convert Jolly Millers are approved at second attempt

A village pub will not reopen as plans to turn it into a home have been agreed on the second attempt.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has approved the conversion of the former Jolly Millers pub in Cottenham into a house.

The Jolly Millers, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire Picture: Google
The Jolly Millers, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire Picture: Google

Outbuildings will also be demolished at the back of the former pub so a second house can be built there.

A previous application to convert the pub had been refused by the council, and the decision was upheld by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

However, an inspector only dismissed the appeal due to concerns about how demolishing some of the outbuildings would impact protected species of bats.

The council had raised concerns about the impact of the loss of the pub on the community, the impact on the character of the conservation area and on highway safety.

The inspector did not think there would be any harm through the loss of the community facility.

At a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (August 9) officers told councillors the inspector’s decision carried “significant” weight when considering the latest application.

Steven Barker, a representative of the applicant, said the latest application resolved the remaining issue around the information requested relating to bats.

Addressing concerns that had been raised about the pub sign being taken down, Mr Barker said the applicant would be happy to put up some sort of board explaining the building’s history as a pub.

The application was objected to by both Cottenham Parish Council and the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).

Parish councillor Tim Jones said the proposals did not meet the requirement in the village neighbourhood plan to discourage parking on roads.

He also said the Jolly Millers had been a popular pub before it closed. He said the parish council believed it was still a useful amenity to the village and that it could be viable as a business if it reopened.

CAMRA said often when communities lose a pub they “rarely, if ever, regain them” and warned if the application was approved there was “little or no chance that the north of Cottenham would ever get a pub back”.

Cllr Bill Handley (Lib Dem, Over and Willingham) said he “hated it” when a pub closed as they are “important” to communities. However, he said the committee had to be “realistic” and could only consider if the issue relating to bats had been resolved.

Cllr Dr Richard Williams (Con, Whittlesford) said in light of the inspector’s decision, the committee had little choice.

Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins (Lib Dem, Caldecote) said: “Planning is not common sense, it is regulation and rules and balance.

“The one issue the appeal was dismissed on has also been addressed. We have got conditions to address those.

“At the end of the day, we need to follow the planning rules and from what I can see there is no material reason really for us to refuse this.

“The inspector’s decision carries significant weight, but we need to learn from it going forward.”

When the decision was put to a vote, eight councillors voted in favour of approving the plans, with one councillor abstaining.

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