Vacant Harpenden pub is saved from conversion into a house

The Three Horseshoes pub.

The Three Horseshoes pub. - Credit: Archant

A vacant former Harpenden pub which ceased trading four years ago cannot be turned into a house after a planning inspector rejected two appeals for its proposed conversion.

That is despite Grade II listed pub The Three Horseshoes, East Common, being built in the 1700s as a semi-detached pair of cottages.

It is also despite a local resident claiming the proposed conversion should go ahead because the site was attracting drug-related activity.

St Albans district council refused to grant listed building consent and turned down a planning application for conversion to residential use, including repairs, refurbishment and extensions to the rear and side.

While the council had no objection to the loss of use as a pub, the scale of the proposed redevelopment was considered disproportionate and inappropriate in the Green Belt.

The decision prompted applicants Darren Goes and Patrick Stell to lodge appeals.

But planning inspector Robert Marshall said the council found that while in 1948 the floorspace of the pub was 138.6 square metres, the extension of the property would have increased it to 273.5 square metres.

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While the applicants had described the council’s calculations as flawed, Mr Marshall said he was in no doubt the substantial extension proposed was disproportionate and inappropriate.

He said that being a listed building, The Three Horseshoes was a designated heritage asset and part of its significance lay in it being used as a pub.

But he noted that while the council accepted it was no longer viable for such a use, “not all agree with this”.

Although there would be “some benefit in a proposal that would take the appeal premises back to its 18th century form, the [scheme] would not do this.”

Mr Marshall added: “Other schemes could potentially be viable. In this attractive location with good communication links and an attractive nearby town I would be surprised if that were not the case here.”

He said the building, “now standing in relative isolation adds to the attractively undeveloped appearance of much of the common. Far from improving the character and appearance of the [Harpenden] conservation area the proposal would detract from it.”

Mr Marshall rejected a local resident’s support of the scheme “on the basis of it appearing run down and being a focal point for drug activities.

“There is no evidence to support the last contention.”

He dismissed both appeals and an application for an award of costs.