Golden Lion Planning Application

We, as the Ashton Hayes Community Hub Limited, a registered Community Benefit Society (CBS), Reg No 7662, wish to object to the planning application No 19/04165/OUT, this is listed as a Hybrid application – Full planning permission for the conversion of the former Golden Lion public house and Outline application for the Residential development comprising 2 dwellings on adjacent land at; The Golden Lion Public House, Kelsall Road, Ashton Hayes, Chester, Cheshire, CH3 8BH.

The residents of Ashton Hayes feel so strongly about retaining the Golden Lion as  going concern and maintaining this much missed, highly valuable community asset that has provided the community a social meeting place for generations, that we have created a working group, subsequently morphed into a CBS, in order to retain the pub for the long term benefit our community. This campaign to save our village pub has been running since 2013.

We have a well established business plan, funding and a very well supported share offer pledged to by large numbers of local residents. We have commissioned independent valuations of the site over the years and have put forward a number of market value aligned offers for the site, the last one was made in December 2019, all of these have been rejected out of hand and the current owner is insistent that the site is worth in the region of 50% in excess of any reasonable professional valuation.

We wish to object to the current application for the following reasons;

  1. The Golden Lion was closed as a public house a number of years ago by the current owner. No test of the viability of this critical community asset, a village pub, has been applied. We maintain that the pub is viable, we have a business plan to support this and a management vehicle in the CBS to run the pub as a going concern.

No test of the market for the sale of the asset as a public house has been applied. As a highly valuable rural pub, evidenced through numerous local and national industry awards during it operational history, situated in the heart of the village and in the centre of the Conservation Area with a good level of on site parking and in a relevantly affluent customer demographic area, we believe the Golden Lion could be highly sought after as a going concern if marketed at a realistic price. A minimum period of at least 12 months of active marketing as a going concern, at realistic price supported by independent valuers should be required and clearly evidenced before any change of use application is considered.

  1. The application is contrary to the ‘made’ Ashton Hayes Neighbourhood Plan, a key planning policy document. Within this Plan is the specific policy reference to not only the community value of the Golden Lion but also to the need for the provision of a replacement if such a critical piece of community infrastructure be lost for any reason.


Policy C1 –Existing community facilities and services

“Planning applications for development which results in the loss of existing community facilities or services shall be required to demonstrate how they shall be replaced within the neighbourhood area by facilities or services of equal or greater value to the community to meet evidenced need.”

There is no reference in the application for the replacement of the village pub as is required by planning policy.

  1. The site sits within the Green Belt. Policy requires that any application to be considered within a Green Belt area should demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’. We maintain this application is contrary to Green Belt Policy as no ‘very special circumstances’ have been evidenced as part of this application and the proposal is therefore inappropriate development within the Green Belt.
  2. The proposal is likely to have a severe detrimental impact on the residential amenity of No 2 Church Rd. Previous similar applications on the site have been deemed to have had the potential for the same detrimental impact. The site is not of a suitable size for the placement of two residential buildings in such a way that would not have an unacceptable impact on residential amenity of No 2 Church Rd, Ashton Hayes. We would also point out the well known environmental interests and programs run, managed and supported by the community in Ashton Hayes and that No 2 Church Rd generates renewable energy through solar panels which would be seriously impeded by any development to the South of its position.
  3. The proposed new access to the site does not have the required visibility splays to provide a safe access or egress to the development. We maintain that the proposed access plan for the residential development would be severely detrimental to highway safety.
  4. The Local Plan requires affordable homes to be provided within all new residential development, including as part of mixed use schemes on sites in rural areas that have a capacity of three or more dwellings. No provision for affordable housing is proposed or referenced in the application. This application is contrary to the affordable homes policy within the Local Plan.
  5. Applications for development within Conservation Areas should be submitted as a ‘full’ applications and not as an ‘outline’ application as this one has been.

We formally request the application is refused based on each and all of the above 7 points, and go further, in requesting the Council to place all reasonable pressure on the owner to market the whole site, at a reasonable market value, to seek out  a buyer who will return the pub to its former glory as a much missed community resource.

The Ashton Hayes Community Hub Limited.