An empty Horsham pub’s ‘time is nigh’ as its demolition and replacement with five homes was approved by the council last night (Tuesday December 1).
The landlord of the Fountain Inn, in Rusper Road, handed in his notice two months ago as he was not bringing in enough money to justify keeping it open.
Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee originally deferred plans in April to receive more information on the pub’s viability and to allow time for further marketing.
Liz Abraham, group head of property at Hall and Woodhouse, explained that any decision to close a pub was not taken lightly by the brewer, but the Fountain Inn had traded poorly for a number of years and the last landlord had been unable to earn enough to take a decent wage, even with a nominal rent.
She said their agent had received no interest from any prospective buyers and Hall and Woodhouse would not bring in another tenant if it was not possible for them to pay themselves an economic wage.
She added: “Bring matters to a conclusion and support our application for alternative use.”
But objector Ian Munslow argued that the pub had not been marketed properly as he and a group of other residents had contacted the commercial agent hoping to arrange a viewing, but their calls had not been returned.
Both local members Jonathan Dancer and Alan Britten (Con, Roffey North) argued for a deferral, but this motion was defeated by a majority of councillors.
Mr Dancer ‘lamented the loss of an amenity’ and felt that a stronger effort could have been made to market the property.
But Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) said: “I think the Fountain’s time is nigh. I think it’s just a fact these kinds of pubs are sadly on the way out.”
David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park) explained that they had previously deferred the application to give the local community a chance to put a bid together, but added: “I would have liked to have seen something very positive on the table but I’ve hot heard that.”
John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) said he ‘agreed with the sentiment’ expressed by residents but could see no reasons for refusal, and this was echoed by Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), who said it was a ‘shame’, but backed the officers’ recommendation to approve the application.
Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar) described how in her ward the closing down of The Nelson pub several years ago was ‘painful’, but conceded that pubs of the Fountain’s type were under threat.
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