St Albans pub wins permission to convert to housing

AN historic pub and hotel has been given planning permission for conversion into three houses – but the owner stressed this week that it was business as usual.

Gail Payne has been given the go ahead to covert the locally listed Black Lion Inn in Fishpool Street, St Albans, into three properties despite opposition from both St Albans Civic Society and the Fishpool Street Residents Association.

But she said there were no immediate plans to act on the planning permission and she has told staff that it would not be shutting imminently.

Gail said: “Life is very tough in this particular trade at the moment. This is something we have explored and now we have it granted, we can work out what to do for the best.

“We need to manage it because it is a business and we are running it at a loss.”

In her comments sent to the district council planning committee which met on Monday, she said that the recession had led to the closure of many pubs and restaurants in St Albans.

The Black Lion was running well below its maximum occupancy as a hotel in common with many other hotels in the city and she pointed out that the three interlinked buildings which made up the current pub had been private homes originally.

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She said that the proposed conversion had been carefully thought through with the main emphasis being the preservation of an historic building and a scheme which fitted in with the locality.

Although there were a number of objections to the plans for the 18th Century building, there were almost as many letters in support of the proposal including praise for the efforts made to try and attract people to the Black Lion.