Could village petition lead to law change?

Deanshanger are campaigning to stop The Fox and Hounds pub becoming a Morrisons
Deanshanger are campaigning to stop The Fox and Hounds pub becoming a Morrisons

A campaign by villagers to stop their pub becoming a supermarket may spark a change to national planning law.

Deanshanger villagers were horrified to hear their Fox and Hounds pub is set to become a Morrisons Local.

Current ruling allows a change of use from pub to retail without permission. But the angry villagers’ campaign may lead to a change in rules for future planning applications.

Their petition has already led to South Northants Council (SNC) writing to the Secretary of State to ask for a review of regulations.

Residents want to know whether there was a breach of the rules and have called for an Article 4 Direction to suspend development rights.

South Northants Council’s portfolio holder for planning and environment Rebecca Breese does not think there was a breach but sympathises with villagers.

She said: “Larger towns might be able to absorb the loss of a pub because there are plenty of others.

“But in small village like Deanshanger the loss of a prominent community pub like the Fox and Hounds will be keenly felt.”

“I’m not sure that it is likely that there is any breach that requires enforcement action and I believe that there aren’t sufficient grounds to impose an Article 4 Direction in this instance.

“But we have asked the head of development management to check if there’s been any breach and he will take action if required. He will also prepare a report on the applicability of an Article 4 direction.”

Planning permission had been granted in February to add a rear extension to the pub with a view to using it as a restaurant.

But in August, villagers found out the pub would be turned into a shop. It has since been bought by WE Black with a Morrisons contract already in place.