St Albans pub couple fall foul of planner in for a drink

A COUPLE S livelihood is at stake following an order to stop building work on their 15-century pub. Michael Axford, aged 50, and his wife Kate took over The Goat Inn in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, two years ago and have built up its reputation for food. The

A COUPLE'S livelihood is at stake following an order to stop building work on their 15-century pub.

Michael Axford, aged 50, and his wife Kate took over The Goat Inn in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, two years ago and have built up its reputation for food.

The pub serves food seven days a week and recently won second place in a Chamber of Commerce restaurant-of-the-year contest. But the property, which is owned by Enterprise Inns, has fallen foul of the strict regulations surrounding Grade Two listed buildings in a Conservation Area.

Their kitchen floor was rotten and needed replacing and Enterprise Inns hired a team of builders to do the work which started on Monday of last week and was due to take a week.


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But that was before one of St Albans District Council's conservation and design team popped into the pub for a drink with his wife last Thursday. Andrew Robley spotted the pub's sign saying food was not available due to building work.

The next day he returned in his official capacity to take a look at the work and the builders were instructed to down tools.

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Michael, who has two children, said: "It's been terrible for us. We were counting on the work taking a week but now we have no end in view. We have had to cancel bookings and turn people away. It could end up costing us thousands. It couldn't come at a worse time with the credit crunch."

A district council spokesperson confirmed that unauthorised work contravening planning law at the pub had stopped.

She added: "The owner, Enterprise Inns, are a national chain and should be familiar with listed building regulations. The council is still pursuing the matter."

It is believed the work could be postponed indefinitely if the council decides to send in a team of archaeological experts.

A spokesperson for Enterprise Inns confirmed that they were working closely with the council's planning and conservation officers to ensure that repairs were carried out to everyone's satisfaction.

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