VOTE: Is it a good idea for the parish council to step in to save Walberton’s last pub?

Village councillors are to become landlords of Walberton’s last pub.

The parish council members will be given a 999 year lease of the Holly Tree as part of a deal to save the drinking place.

The agreement will be signed now Hanbury Properties has received planning approval to create four B&B rooms at the pub along with six houses next door.

The company will also help to fund a community hall and improve play equipment in the village.

The unusual deal will secure the viability of the pub, and give enough community benefit to justify building houses outside the built up area boundary.

The parish council had made no objection to the proposal. It came after a previous, larger, scheme for eight B&B rooms and nine houses was rejected for its impact on the village.

Nine letters to Arun District Council objecting to the development raised fears the smaller scheme would lead to the larger one being revived.

But seven letters in support of the current proposal were also received in praise of the pub being given a better chance of survival. Real ale fans in CAMRA had also backed the proposal.

Planning permission for the latest scheme at the site north of The Street was granted unanimously by Arun District Council’s development control committee last Wednesday without any comment from its members.

Juan Baeza, a council planning officer, told them the reduction in the number of houses by a third from the previous scheme was an important factor in his recommendation to approve the latest plan.

“The other reason we are waiving our usual policy of objecting to development outside the boundary of the built-up area is that there is sufficient community benefit to this proposal,” he said.

The deal to sign the pub over to the parish council should secure its facility.

Hanbury’s planning agent, Amanda Sutton, said the company was committed to working with villagers.

An appeal against a failure by Arun to decide the application within the six month deadline would be withdrawn if the scheme was approved, she said.