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Little Cheverell residents upset over loss of pub
2:00pm Saturday 9th February 2013 in News
Residents in Little Cheverell are lamenting the loss of their village pub after permission was granted for it to be turned into a house.
The Owl was bought by Jeremy Mitchell from Enterprise Inns in December 2010. He did not intend to open it but bowed to public pressure the next summer.
But he said it made a loss and last October applied for a change in planning use for it to become a private house.
His application attracted 20 objections, including one from the parish council, and one letter of support. Wiltshire Council granted planning permission under delegated powers last month.
Residents opposed to his plan claim he opened the pub at irregular hours, was inexperienced and deliberately ran it down.
Mr Mitchell declined to speak to the Gazette but, in his submission as part of his planning application, he accused villagers of not supporting the pub.
He said: “One of the common themes from the objections is that I have not run the pub long enough. Almost 18 months, I counter, is long enough to continue to make a loss.
“When I came to this village almost exactly two years ago, The Owl was closed, shuttered and dead. I am the guy who listened to the village and renovated, rejuvenated and re-opened it.
“I put my heart, my body and my soul into it.
“Of all the pubs most that are susceptible to closure in the UK, surely The Owl is one of the most likely, most fragile and most vulnerable because of its ‘off the beaten track’ location in a narrow lane, small car park and kitchen and tiny population of mainly ‘not pub people’.”
Wiltshire Council commissioned an independent consultant to assess The Owl, who concluded it was inherently unviable.
Little Cheverell has a population of about 150 people.
Villager Mike Brain, a former parish councillor, said: “Although I’m not a regular customer of The Owl I still felt it was sad that it should no longer be a pub. The consultant said it was unviable but you could say that for almost any pub off the main road.”
Resident Mary Wheeler said: “Jeremy had made the pub so beautiful, it was the best it has ever looked. It’s very sad for the village to lose a pub. It’s something I have supported for 30 years.”