Release Date: 05 April 2013
The Government's Planning Inspectorate has set a date for the public inquiry into the alleged unauthorised use of the former Halfway House Public House at Box, Minchinhampton.
The Halfway House, as a pub, was a focal point for the local community for a number of years until last year when it was suddenly closed. Historically the pub was acquired by the Cotswold Chine School, through the Novalis Trust, so that the car park could be shared and used in the day by the school, and in the evenings and weekends by the pub.
After the pub closed it reopened with a new use, encompassing a cafe and school use. Following complaints, an investigation and a failed request for a planning application, an enforcement notice was issued by the council.
Initially the Novalis Trust wanted their appeal against the enforcement action to be dealt with by written representations, which would have meant that all parties involved would provide written evidence to a planning inspector who would also visit the site. However, given the public interest in the case, Stroud District Council suggested an informal hearing where locals could give verbal evidence would be preferable.
Following further input from the trust, the Planning Inspectorate decided on a full public inquiry which will last for two days, on September 4 and 5 and be held at the council's Ebley Mill offices.
Fundamentally, the council alleges that the use of the former public house has changed without the benefit of planning permission. The trust contends that the changes are allowed by law, and that planning permission is not required.