Village could lose one of last remaining pubs to housing

The Chalkdrawers Arms in Colney Heath.

The Chalkdrawers Arms in Colney Heath. - Credit: Chris Brazier

The future of a village pub is in doubt following a fresh bid to convert it into a residential dwelling.

The Chalkdrawers Arms, situated to the east of Colney Heath on Roestock Lane, is a reminder that chalk was once extracted locally. It includes an open plan bar/restaurant area for approximately 30 covers, a separate snooker room and a further room to the side for circa 10 covers. Externally the pub benefits from a good-sized beer garden and car parking for around seven vehicles.

It is one of the only surviving pubs in the village following the loss of The Queen's Head and The Cock, which were both converted to residential accommodation. The only other pub still open is the Crooked Billet in the High Street.

But an appeal has now been lodged by Bluestone Landscapes Ltd against St Albans district council’s refusal of planning permission for change of use from a pub to create a three bedroom dwelling and office accommodation, with associated alterations to openings and parking, landscaping and external works.

SADC refused permission for the following reason: “It has not been demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority, that the loss of the public house is justified in this case, nor that it could not continue to operate as a Public House or that the alternative community uses have been fully explored. The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework 2021 and Policy 67 of the St Albans District Local Plan Review 1994.”

Bluestone Landscapes Ltd has now appealed to the Secretary of State against this decision.

Colney Heath county and district councillor Chris Brazier said: "We once had four pubs in this part of the parish, now we are down to one, I think it is important to keep the Chalkdrawers. It is situated at the far end of the village and when opened over 50 per cent of our housing is catered for and can walk to a pub, not drive. I support the Inspector's refusal, we don't need another three bedroom house."

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See the plans at https://planningapplications.stalbans.gov.uk/planning using the reference 5/2021/1989.