MP wades into debate on Hildersham pub conversion

Villagers outside the Pear Tree Inn, Hildersham
Villagers outside the Pear Tree Inn, Hildersham

An MP has expressed concern at plans to turn a Hildersham pub into a four bedroom house, calling upon the council to refuse the application.

Sir James Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, wrote to South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) on January 28 to urge them to turn down an application to convert the Pear Tree Pub into a house.

The pub, which closed in 2013, was successfully converted into a German furniture warehouse in January 2014. There are, however, concerns that this was just an interim step to help its conversion to a house.

“The Pear Tree Inn was listed as an Asset of Community Value,” said Sir Paice. “I am concerned that the property’s change of use to A1 last year may obscure the fact that this is, in essence, an application to convert a local pub into a home.

“I believe that the council should refuse this planning application and I hope that, in due course, the Pear Tree Inn will be able to re-open as a pub for the local community.”

There has been public opposition to the conversion of the pub, with the SToPiT (Save the Pear Tree) group fighting to keep the building so it can re-open as a pub.

On January 26, ministers announced a change in the law designed to protect pubs. Though it can’t be applied retroactively, it indicates the government’s priorities.

Community Pubs Minister Kris Hopkins said: “The Great British pub is a national treasure which is why we are determined to protect it.”

Communities Minister Stephen Williams added: “This government wants to help to protect local pubs where they are seen to be important community assets.”

To view the application, visit www.scambs.gov.uk, click on search a planning application and enter the reference S/0040/15/FL.