The Borough Arms in Forches set to be replaced with 11 new homes after planning committee verdict

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A BARNSTAPLE pub looks set to be demolished and replaced with houses after North Devon Council’s planning committee approved plans for eleven new homes in Forches Avenue.

Councillors approved plans to demolish the Borough Arms pub and replace it with a terrace of nine houses, two flats and 11 garages.

The pub was bought at auction by Chichester homes in November 2012.

None of the new homes will be ‘affordable’, although a total of £65,000 will be paid by applicant Chichester Homes as a contribution to the ‘public open space’ and the education authority.

Forches residents and local council ward members were amongst those who spoke against the plans for the pub, which has been the ‘gateway’ to the estate since the 1950s. The council had also received four letters of representation and a petition with 214 signatures to save the pub.

“Here we have a developer who has decided to remove an iconic part of Forches in a retrograde step,” said Cllr Judy Hunt, town and district councillor for the ward.

“If these houses are approved without any affordable housing they will stay as empty as the pub has been as no one will be able to afford them.”

Planning manager Mike Kelly moved quickly to allay these fears, saying that the houses would still be ‘low cost’.

Forches resident Keith Gale said: “There is a clear and obvious necessity for the Borough Arms to remain. When work is finished no the other new development at Forches there will be a far higher population and there has already been three pubs closed down nearby recently.

“I think this application is all about individual gain and has no interest in the Forches community.”

But despite their disapproval and the contentious issue of whether Forches residents had a right to be able to make a bid to save their pub, planners came to the conclusion that there were no material planning reasons to refuse the proposed development.

“I think everyone’s got sympathy for the people of Forches,” said Cllr Joe Tucker. “It’s very sad that the end of the line is coming, but we are where we are.

“There are no planning reasons not to approve this.”

Cllr Paul Yabsley added that the opportunity to take advantage of the ‘community right to buy’ had passed when the developer bought the house from the previous owner of the pub.

Councillors voted 10-2 in favour of the development.

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