Pub is vindicated in appeal over car park on green belt

A PUB near Leamington that has won national awards for its food has won in its appeal against an order to close an extended car park.

The owners of the Stag in Offchurch found themselves embroiled in a dispute after Warwick District Council ordered them to close the 30-space car park that sits on land alongside the original 28-space parking area.

But David Mills, director of CD Pub Co, which runs the pub, argued that, although the disputed area is on green belt land, the business was not obliged to obtain planning permission as the car park had already been there for more than ten years and there had been no problems.

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The firm - with the support of villagers and Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright - appealed the decision and the Government inspector who oversaw the appeal upheld it for the Stag, awarding the company £4,500 costs.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Mills said: “Not only was the whole affair a waste of council time and resources, but it has incurred unnecessary costs to the local taxpayer.

“Justice has been done. The residents of Offchurch and our team at the Stag are delighted with the inspector’s decision.

“The district council ignored the evidence we provided before the appeal. Our councillor Michael Doody also neglected to respond to our correspondence, emails and telephone calls and council officers advised that our appeal would fail.

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“Fortunately we were able to get good advice regarding the planning issues, but another pub in a similar situation may well have been intimidated by the enforcement notices, which could have led to the loss of a business and local jobs.”

Cllr Doody, who represents Offchurch on the district council and is also the council’s leader, said that after the enforcement notice had been issued, he had been contacted by a member of the joint parish council of Eathorpe, Hunningham, Offchurch and Wappenbury to ask if he would write to the inspector in support of the pub, as if the car park closed it would be likely that the village would become congested with parked cars.

Cllr Doody said: “I did write to the inspector and the appeal was upheld. I am pleased because it made a lot more sense.

“It may well cost the council money, but these things usually do. It’s part of what democracy is about.”