Lowick pub averts threat of closure

The Black Bull at Lowick

The Black Bull at Lowick

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A community campaign to save a pub from closure looks like it has paid off after plans to use the site for housing were withdrawn.

Villagers in Lowick were last month shocked to learn about plans to demolish the Black Bull to make way for a quartet of four-bedroom houses.

However, the agents acting for owners B & L Properties have now withdrawn their planning application to Northumberland County Council.

The news was greeted with delight by pub regulars and the wider community.

John Huddart, chairman of Lowick Parish Council, said: “It made no sense as a development – four houses on a site that is extremely vulnerable to flooding, and at a time like the present. It would seem unlikely that insurance cover would be available, and most purchasers would be put off by this alone.

“From the point of view of a community asset – the Black Bull is one of our oldest inns, which still offers a warm welcome, a good supper and a bed for the night. All the evidence we have, is that it can continue to to do so.

“Of course, the withdrawal of this scheme is no guarantee that the owners won’t think of another at some point – but they have seen the strength of local feeling and the support the action group received.

“We easily obtained sufficient signatures to have the pub declared a community asset with the county council under the Government’s Localism legislation. We do no know yet if this application will be successful, but if it is, the village will have the right to bid for the pub before any development could occur.

“So we are grateful that the scheme is no more, and hope the community will continue to show its support for our landlord, Les, by using the pub regularly.”

Caldecott Consultants, who prepared the previous application, had stated the Black Bull was ‘commercially unviable’ as a sustainable pub, restaurant and hotel business.

They said a combination of factors, including Lowick’s remote location and the building’s poor state of repair had made it difficult to sell, with just three viewings over a two year period.

No-one from the firm was able to comment on the decision to withdraw the plans.

The council’s environmental protection team had said they had no objections in principle and highways had raised only minor concerns.

But the plans were overwhelmingly opposed at an open meeting organised by the parish council which was attended by more than 40 people.

Diane Chisholm, one of the objectors, said: There has been a public house on that site since at least the mid 1700’s. It should not be demolished in favour of some modern houses. There are several houses and building plots that have been on the market for several years.”

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