We were first alerted to the demolition of The Duck by local residents concerned that their local pub was being pulled down. We contacted the Council who sent officers on site to ensure that the work was legal.
As a result, we discovered that there was no legal barrier to the applicants demolishing the pub but they were doing so without the proper level of asbestos survey. Since a commercial building of that era almost certainly contained asbestos and the incorrect removal of that material would have put neighbours at risk, we ensured that the work was stopped until the correct survey was undertaken and it was clear that the demolition was to be undertaken in accordance with the results of that survey.
There had been issues with the running of the pub for some time and some local residents were very pleased to see it go. Nevertheless, most would admit that, until about five years ago, they had never had any problem with it being there. We think that it is sad that, rather than trying to address the problems of the way that the pub was run, the owners simply sold it. We also think that, whilst it was entirely legal for the pub to be demolished without warning it was reprehensible because it prevented any debate within our community as to whether local people wished to retain the facility.
The land on which the pub stood was covenanted for community use at the time that the Bedgrove estate was first developed. It is, to say the least, regrettable, that the owners of the land chose to ignore the covenant completely and apply for planning permission for houses on the site without any consultation – particularly with the wider Bedgrove estate for would benefit the land was covenanted. Unfortunately, covenants of that sort can only be enforced by a civil court action by somebody that has been disadvantaged by the breach of the covenant.
The covenant is, as we have said, purely a civil matter and it is not, therefore, a consideration that can be taken into account when deciding on a planning application. So, it is unsurprising that the Council’s officers have accepted the principle of development of the site. However, they turned down the application on design other technical grounds.
We understand that, rather than trying to negotiate an acceptable plan, the new owners have decided to go straight to appeal which, in view of the history, doesn’t surprise us. We do not know when the appeal is likely to be heard.