Support for bid to transform historic Ottery pub into flats

The Kings Arms in Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 39-16TI 8781. Picture: Terry Ife

The Kings Arms in Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 39-16TI 8781. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

‘Loss of Kings Arms as a pub could safeguard building’

Fresh plans to turn an historic Ottery pub into flats have gained the backing of Ottery Town Council, writes Eleanor Pipe.

Members who discussed the application on Monday felt proposals to convert the Kings Arms into eight homes would safeguard the future of the partially-derelict premises and breathe new life into the Grade II listed building.

Councillors agreed to back the application by a majority vote, subject to a ‘substantially increased’ community contribution – calculated at more than £100,000 – from the developer.

Councillor Roger Giles expressed concern over the loss of another town centre pub, arguing that there are a lot of ‘issues’ with the details and challenging the claim within the application that the business is not viable.

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He added: “The Kings Arms has been a pub in Ottery for hundreds of years. When the application was first submitted in 2002, there was a lot of opposition to it. Saying it is not viable is a claim that is not backed up with documentation.”

Cllr Giles dismissed claims that Ottery needs more housing, saying that the town was supposed to have an allocation of 300 homes according to the East Devon Local Plan - a development blueprint - but is already up to double that figure.

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Cllr Ian Holmes said: “A previous application gained approval for the renovation of a listed building, but was ultimately refused because there was no 106 contribution [a developer’s levy]. In granting this, we are losing the facility of a public house in favour of accommodation. There is a danger that if we do not grant this, the place could be locked up and not used at all.”

Cllr Paul Carter said: “It’s unfortunate to lose another pub, as we know others are struggling and, even 10 years ago, Ottery was a very different place. But we do have a responsibility to protect the buildings in the town and we do have a responsibility to provide housing.”

Cllr Lynn Harding added: “It’s run-down and if they had the money to do it up they would do so. Surely it’s better to have a building put to good use than have a non-viable business that’s falling to bits.”

East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the application.

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