Thorpe Satchville villagers prepare for third battle to save their last pub

Melton borough councillor Leigh Higgins (second from right) outside The Fox Inn at Thorpe Satchville with villagers in March 2017 during a previous battle to prevent it being redeveloped for housing EMN-180821-120524001
Melton borough councillor Leigh Higgins (second from right) outside The Fox Inn at Thorpe Satchville with villagers in March 2017 during a previous battle to prevent it being redeveloped for housing EMN-180821-120524001
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Villagers are gearing up for a third battle to prevent their remaining pub being turned into housing - but this time they are seeking a compromise.

The Fox Inn, at Thorpe Satchville, has been closed since September 2014.

Successive owners have since applied for planning permission after insisting the building was no longer financially viable to run as a pub.

In January, a planning inspector dismissed an appeal against Melton Council’s decision to refuse permission for The Fox to be converted into housing.

She backed objectors by finding it was an important community asset and had not been marketed extensively enough for its potential sale as a public house.

But, a fresh application has now been submitted to the council for change of use and backed by a report from independent consultants who say it is not viable as a pub business, and that it was marketed widely when previously advertised as one.

Ward councillor Leigh Higgins said he would continue to oppose redevelopment, but would be open to discussing an alternative scheme, either to retain the building as a pub and build housing in the car park, as has just happened with the Rose and Crown at Tilton, or to use the building for housing and construct a new pub on the site.

He said: “ I want to see the site become economically active so I would say to the applicant to work with me and the community to put forward a master plan for the site, which must include a pub, and there may be an opportunity for housing to help turn a profit and finance the whole project ensuring everyone wins.”

Councillor Higgins, who is also deputy council leader, pointed out that the council had recently strengthened its planning policy to protect pubs being developed and added: “I am clear that I will not stand by and allow pubs to close to speculative development to the detriment of our valued communities without exploring every viable option first.”

Villager David Johnston, a former regular of the pub and a campaigner to protect it, said a combined scheme with new housing and the retention of the pub would be likely to win support from locals.

He said: “The range of diverse services that can be provided from this site is remarkable. I just hope that this is not an application exercise that is a ‘Groundhog Day’ of future repeats.”