Sedgemoor District Council has today registered a planning application from Land Promotions ltd for the Demolition of the Hope Inn former Public House on Taunton road and ancillary dwelling, the erection of a two/three storey building to form 22 apartments (15, two bedroom and 7, one bedroom), and the formation of parking and amenity space.
The application can be viewed here on the SDC planning portal with a deadline for comments by the 26th May 2015.
The Hope Inn has been the subject of a desperate battle to fend off demolition by Westover ward councillors, the Town Council and the Civic Society, which resulted in the property being put on the Community Asset Register and a stop order being placed by SDC to halt demolition. However, since this time the Hope Inn has been left roofless and open to all weather.
Land Promotions is the company of Vince Nguyen which has been responsible for the demolition of several iconic public houses around Bridgwater and their replacement with housing projects. In November 2014 Chair of the Town Council’s Community Assets Panel, Westover councillor Brian Smedley wrote to Mr Nguyen asking him to meet with the towns people to discuss what was needed before destroying any more of our buildings.
Cllr Smedley said “Mr Nguyen didn’t answer then. This is his reply now – as always, a wrecker’s ball. Land Promotions said the roof was damaged and needed urgent repair, but the intention is now obvious. All the developers wanted it seems all along, was to demolish another iconic historic building and put up yet more flats.”
This planning application now presents the people of Bridgwater with a dilemma. The building won a place on the Community Assets Register – but Cllr Smedley says “That is meaningless unless someone intervenes with a serious bid , a plan and crucially with the money behind it. The Town Council bought a breathing space for this to happen but no-one was able to. These projects seem to work out in some rich little villages where a local pub is threatened and people are able to dig deep to save it, but places like Bridgwater are simply easy fodder for rapacious developers. The town needs to decide now how to respond to this latest project – either to keep objecting unless and until the developer comes up with a planning application that is wanted and that is suitable to the area or to accept that Mr Nguyen has got his way yet again and can build more houses on what is , of course, a brownfield site.”
Cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover) said “We will certainly be objecting to this, principally on the grounds of over-development and impact of traffic generation on an already busy route, which is only going to get worse with the Hinkley C development. Whilst, sadly, it is not looking likely that we will be able to save (what’s left of) the building, we need to do our best to get the best development possible on this important site in and out of the town. As always we will be asking for the views of the people of Bridgwater “.
A Sedgemoor Spokesman said “The Hope inn was registered as a public asset by Sedgemoor District Council on 29th September 2014. Land Promotions has now notified us of a wish to sell. The property has effectively come out of listing and the owner can sell without restriction for 18 months until a fresh application can be re-submitted.”