Village pub and B&B dream in jeopardy

The Dragons Head in Whittington prior to its closure
The Dragons Head in Whittington prior to its closure

Plans to “breathe new life” into a Lune Valley village may have been scuppered by a planning decision.

Simon Nutter applied to Lancaster City Council to build three new homes and convert a barn on land to the rear of The Dragon’s Head Pub in Whittington.

Ward Coun Peter Williamson told the planning committee that the funds from the sale of the properties would enable Mr Nutter to re-open the pub and turn the site into a bed and breakfast, bar and shop, with the possibility of reinstating the village Post Office.

But the city council’s planning committee narrowly rejected the application, voting seven against seven, with the chair, Coun Carla Brayshaw, casting her deciding vote for refusal “with a heavy heart”.

Barbara Atkinson, from Whittington Parish Council, told the committee: “The majority of residents support this application.

“Our shop, Post Office and pub has all gone. We have the opportunity to revitalise our main throughfare. I urge you to look favourably at this application.”

Lancaster City Council planning officers told councillors that they weren’t against the scheme coming forward, but there were issues with the application. Council planning officer Andrew Drummond said: “We think there’s a scheme here but it needs to come forward in the correct manner.”

Officers had recommended the plans for refusal, saying the site was not considered sustainable in terms of its location. A report concluded that the dwellings could have a detrimental impact on the viability of the pub which it proposes to support, and proposed alterations to the barn do not respect the character and appearance of the building.

Highways and access issues were also stated as reasons forrefusal.

Coun Peter Williamson said: “Mr and Mrs Nutter have used their life savings to buy The Dragon’s Head. They want to turn the site into a Lune Valley bed and breakfast, bar, eaterie and shop, and they’re trying to get the Post Office back. There’s a direct connection in that the funds will enable the pub to re-open, and the pub plans will follow. It will breathe some life into this village.”

Coun Janice Hanson said: “This isn’t the right application. Work with the officers, come back and get a proper application that we can support.”

Mr Nutter said after the meeting that “it might be too late” to submit another application.

He was unavailable for comment as the Lancaster Guardian went to press.