Fringe Box



Proposal to Turn Village Pub into Residential Units Overwhelmingly Defeated

Published on: 5 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2024

The Harrow Pub, closed up as it has been since 2018. Google Streetview

By Martin Giles

A planning proposal to extend a centuries-old disused pub in Compton was refused at Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday evening (January 3).

The Harrow dates back to the 17th century. A familiar landmark, it was a popular pub until about a decade ago when it became more of a restaurant. But with no apparent takers to buy it as a public house, it was proposed that it was redeveloped, with extensions, for residential use.

The property is “Locally Listed”, within the green belt and inside the identified settlement boundary of Compton, in the Surrey Hills National Landscape (formerly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)), Area of Great Landscaping Value (AGLV) and the Compton Conservation Area.

The Harrow as it looked in the 20th century. Wikipedia

The proposal included extensions to both sides of the building to provide five dwellings with associated amenity space and car parking to the rear.

Neither GBC’s tree officer, an AONB officer, Surrey CC Historic Landscapes Officer, Surrey County Council Highways, Thames Water, Environmental Health, SCC Rights of Way officer nor Surrey Wildlife Trust objected to the proposal but Compton Parish Council (CPC) did, on numerous grounds.

Stephen Mallett, chair of CPC, told the the planning meeting that his council was objecting to the planning application for The Harrow because the development was disproportionately large for the site.

CPC was also concerned on safety grounds because: “The proposal restricts vehicle access and sightlines… The road to the middle of content is extremely busy and access on and off it can be very dangerous. Crash Map shows 11 incidents in the village since 2019, of which two was serious and a further two involved fatalities. ”

The parish council chairman was also concerned by the accuracy of the plans saying: “… the plans drawn by the developer are misleading because they imply full ownership of the access which they now acknowledge is not the case.”

And the traffic surveys were also misleading, he said, because they were based on unreliable data. Mr Mallett concluded: “We realise none of these objections are new, and it’s extremely disappointing that the planning officers seem to have made no effort to address them nor to work with the developers in adapting the proposed structure.”

Mr Santos, speaking on behalf of the applicant in support of the proposal, said that when the pub was sold in 2022, several years after it had closed, the only “real” interest in the public house was from developers.

How the frontage of the proposed redevelopment would have looked. (Click on image to enlarge.)

He continued: “As part of the planning application, the applicant commissioned a viability report, which concluded that it was unlikely to reopen as a viable public house. It was noted that the public house was in a very poor state of repair and that there are other public houses in the area that offer better facilities.”

He contended that the presented plans were accurate and concluded by saying that the proposal would: “…provide small dwellings in the village whilst at the same time showing their locally listed building was restored and safeguarded for the future complementing and enhancing the character of the conservation area”.

Cllr Howard Smith

Cllr Howard Smith (Lab, Westborough) observed that while most were sorry to see a pub go he had visited the site that morning and could confirm that the building was in a sorry state with “trees growing out of the roof and stuff like that”.

“The most sensible thing to do with property like this is to convert it to to housing and repurpose it.”

After the debate a motion to approve the application in line with the planning officer’s recommendation was defeated by 9 votes to 1 with 2 abstentions.

A subsequent motion to refuse permission was agreed: 10 voting in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention.

Reacting to Wednesday’s decision, a spokesperson for Compton Parish Council said: “We are delighted that Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee recognised the excessive bulk of the proposed Harrow Inn development in a green belt conservation area, and its lack of regard for neighbouring properties.

“We would welcome an opportunity to work with the owners of the site in finding a mutually acceptable solution for the development of an iconic village building.”

Cllr Dominique Williams

Dominique Williams (Lib Dem, Shalford), a ward councillor, said: “The Harrow pub site needs developing as it is currently in disrepair. The application that came to the committee on Wednesday had a lot to recommend it, but it was too large for the site and there were concerns about access and impact on neighbouring cottages.

“I would urge the developer to work with local residents and put forward a revised plan that everyone can support.”

Howard Smith, the only councillor to vote in favour of the application, said: “I voted in favour because the pub is currently in poor condition and something of a blight on the village.  Repurposing the building to residential is probably the only way to go as there have been no takers for reopening it.

“I don’t think the application is perfect by any means but on the planning committee, we don’t have a vast range of options.  Is it better than what we have – definitely, yes.

“I am glad the committee had the opportunity to debate the development.  I wonder if it will go to appeal or return with a scaled-down proposal. I fear that it might lay vacant and deteriorating for some years to come as we have seen elsewhere in the town.  But I accept the decision of my colleagues and hope a solution comes forward that is acceptable to everyone.”

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Responses to Proposal to Turn Village Pub into Residential Units Overwhelmingly Defeated

  1. A Darch Reply

    January 6, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    I have lived in Compton for 18 years. I think a shop would in the village would be appreciated by the local residents.

  2. Theresa Coleman (Mrs) Reply

    January 6, 2024 at 3:24 pm

    I agree that the village is in much need of amenities: shops, doctors, dentist, hairdressers, and so on. It does not need more housing, but facilities to provide for those living and visiting the village.

  3. Ed Holliday Reply

    January 8, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    I don’t doubt the highways issue with number of incidents since 2019. Compton is under pressure from another proposed development on the other side of the village adjacent to Binscombe (lane) with a proposal to build 27 dwellings due at Waverley planning meeting on February 7th see

    Ed Holliday is a Conservative) Godalming town councillor representing the Charterhouse Ward.

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