Council supports Kings Arms conversion

COUNCILLORS on the planning committee voted in favour of supporting plans to convert the Kings Arms into apartments.

At the meeting of Ottery Town Council this week six councillors to three were in favour of supporting the conversion of the pub into eight dwellings, but only upon the condition of a Section 106 payment being made in line with the East Devon District Council’s figures.

The owner, Graham Hudson, had requested exemption from paying the charge, thought to total around �25,000, as he believes the high cost of repairing fire damage to the upper floors will not generate the usual profit levels.

But Ottery’s councillors believe the payment, which is a developer contribution to local services, should still be paid in full. Mayor Glyn Dobson said: “We should make a point of asking for the 106 payment no matter our decision here.”

Councillor Ian Holmes began by suggesting the council should not support plans, saying it would be a loss to the town’s tourism industry. He said: “The town is short of hotel accommodation, if we lose it now then we lose it forever.”

It was discussed whether the owner should look at keeping the property open as a pub rather than converting it into flats, but Councillor Peter Williams said: “But there’s a big difference between making it pay as a pub and keeping a building like that in fine fettle. Its not going to pay as a pub, and do we want it to fall down or do we want it keep the fa�ade and keep it looking good?”

Councillor George Lansford agreed, adding: “There isn’t enough room in Ottery for all the pubs, look how many owners the London has had, the Lamb and Flag has closed and reopened recently, so has the Volunteer Inn, you cant expect the owner to keep it open with the rates he must be paying on it.”

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Planning chairman Councillor Paul Carter concluded: “I think most of us are agreed that it is regretful that the pub will have to close but having it converted into flats is better than seeing it fall into rack and ruin.”

East Devon District Council will now look over the plans for approval.