Time is called for another Harpenden pub

The Three Horseshoes pub.

The Three Horseshoes pub. - Credit: Archant

AN ATTEMPT to convert a failed historic pub on Harpenden’s East Common into a house has provoked strong opposition from a resident who said it was too valuable an asset to lose.

St Albans district council is considering an application for planning permission and listed building consent to knock down parts of The Three Horseshoes and convert, extend and redevelop it.

Applicants Darren Goes and Patrick Stell are seeking approval for a change of use to turn the old pub into a five-bedroom home on the Green Belt.

They want to demolish existing front, side and rear extensions and build part single, part two-storey rear and side extensions. Further planned alterations include refurbishment – both internal and external – access and landscaping.

But Steve Gledhill, of Cravells Road, said: “I am strongly opposed to this plan.

“We must not allow valuable social amenities such as pubs to close. On average 26 close every week in the UK. The Three Horseshoes serves a wide area including Cross Farm Estate and West Common.”

He added: “The Three Horseshoes occupied a unique niche in Harpenden. In the summer the superb beer garden catered for families and had excellent barbecues. The bar used to be very popular in the early evening for people returning from work.

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“Some would argue that the pub as a business is not viable but I am convinced that it can be if it is correctly positioned and managed properly and promoted.”

However in the planning application, JB Planning Associates said conversion of the property from a “now defunct public house use” to its original use as a home was “the best possible viable solution”.

The pub is a Grade II listed building in both the Harpenden conservation area and on the Green Belt, south of the town centre.

The firm said the building was currently vacant and that despite “repeated attempts proved unviable and unsustainable” as a pub.

The Three Horseshoes was altered, partially demolished and extended “in an unsympathetic manner during the mid-1970s” and was listed after modifications were made. The building was originally built as a pair of semi-detached cottages in the early or mid-1700s, possibly as labourers’ cottages, with a strong relationship to the common land they bounded.

It was then converted to a public house probably during the 1800s.

The application said the developers would retain key features of architectural and historic interest including two spiral staircases and two inglenook fireplaces.

JB Planning said that during the past seven years of its operation there had been five different lease agreements with various tenants and operators, “all of which produced diminishing returns and ended in business failure”.

Harpenden town council has raised no objections to either the proposed redevelopment or listed building consent, but Cllr John Chambers expressed concern about the legalities of access in regard to use of the Common.