Villagers fight to save future of disused pub

JPCT 270313 S13130200x Amberley. Black Horse pub development protest outside HDC, Park North, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 270313 S13130200x Amberley. Black Horse pub development protest outside HDC, Park North, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb

A public planning inquiry was the scene of a protest by 50 angry villagers yesterday as they fought controversial plans to convert an Amberley pub into two homes.

Members of the Black Horse Action Group (BHAG) based in Amberley and the applicant Peter Marston were present at the hearing to debate the compromises that a conversion to the High Street pub could make to the community.

Employee of Amberley Village Stores, Philip Bently, said it was important for the Black Horse to be retained as a pub to help boost trade in the area.

“Since the pub closed our trade has slowed down. It will be disappointing if this goes through. More homes is not a benefit to the community.”

Mr Marston, who owns the property and plans to convert the 17th century premises into two family holiday homes, said it would be a ‘pity’ if the application did not go through.

“There’s a shortage of housing in the area and I’ve created holiday homes before that have been successful.

“As a pub it’s no longer viable and it will take six months to reapply if it doesn’t pass.”

One main concern amongst residents was the ‘treacherous’ walk people must make on the B2139 to reach the next convenient public house.

Chairman of the Amberley Society, Grahame Joseph, imparted: “There have been many fatal accidents on that stretch of road and people walking along it have received injuries.”

Ian Woodward-Court, managing director of Plainview Planning, who is helping Mr Marston secure the application, said there is no car park on the premises, which would deter outside trade.

But a member of BHAG, Martin Carter, said a demonstration was held in East Street to prove that 35 cars could park safely on the road without causing a disruption.

The hearing continued yesterday as the County Times went to press. The planning inspector will announce his decision at a later date.