A POPULAR community pub has been saved from the bulldozers after local residents defeated a major developer.
The Victoria Hotel Community Association argued the iconic St Annes pub had historical and community value – and a Government inspector has sided with them in what is being hailed as a landmark case.
McCarthy and Stone wanted to bulldoze the Church Road pub – known as The Vic – to make way for retirement flats, but have failed to win planning permission for a second time.
And now the community group – made up of enthusiastic local councillors and residents – are set to launch their own ambitious bid to take over the property and secure its future.
Coun Ed Nash, who led the association’s fight, said: “We feel exonerated – everything we said has been supported by the inspector.
“A local community has taken on a giant and won a battle – but McCarthy and Stone have six weeks to appeal so we’ve not won the war.”
It is not yet known whether the developer will appeal the inspector’s decision, but the association are pressing ahead with their plans for the pub.
They hope to raise the cash to buy it from owners Spirit Pub Company and to bring the whole building back into use as a community centre.
Coun Nash added: “We’ve already made a bid to Spirit group and they came back and said they had a contract with McCarthy and Stone, but they have left the door open.
“What we have to do now is raise the money.”
Pub regular Bruce Goodridge, who also spoke at April’s inquiry, added: “We are delighted, stunned and amazed.
“The inspector’s report makes great reading for us and it’s another step down the line.”
In her report, inspector Elizabeth Ord said demolishing The Vic would “undermine community cohesion”’.
McCarthy and Stone wanted to build a four-storey block of 40 one and two bedroom apartments on the site.
Steve Secker, regional managing director for the firm, said: “We are disappointed by the decision to reject our planning appeal to redevelop the site of the Victoria Hotel public house.
“We still believe our proposals would help to address the significant shortfall of suitable housing and support options in the local area for older people, and we will be reviewing the decision in detail before deciding how to proceed.”