Pub campaign goes to inquiry

Inquiry into McCarthy and Stone's plans to turn The Victoria pub in St Annes into retirement flats. Pictured are supporters and members of The Victoria Hotel Community Association.
Inquiry into McCarthy and Stone's plans to turn The Victoria pub in St Annes into retirement flats. Pictured are supporters and members of The Victoria Hotel Community Association.
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A THREE-legged dog joined the fight to save a treasured St Annes pub as a public inquiry into the ‘community asset’ opened.

The future of the Victoria Hotel is hanging in the balance and will be decided by a Government planning inspector.

Developer McCarthy and Stone want to demolish the popular Church Road pub to make way for retirement flats.

But campaigners, who want to buy the premises for the use of the local community.

Neighbours packed St Annes United Reformed Church to argue their pub should not be bulldozed, while the developer maintains vocal local objections were not enough to see planning permission denied.

Fylde councillors rejected the application on the basis of the strong public feeling against it, but the council chose to offer no evidence at the inquiry which was due to end this morning.

Dozens of people asked to be able to make their views known, including pub regulars and representatives from local groups.

John Dickinson – who brought along his three-legged dog, Rocky – accused McCarthy and Stone of attempting to force its development on a community where it was not wanted.

He told the meeting: “The Vic is the only pub in St Annes that allows my dog in. It’s a genuine pub with genuine people and we don’t want to lose it, we want to improve it.”

Coun Edward Nash, who is leading the case on behalf of the Victoria Hotel Community Association, said: “This hotel has served the community for 115 years and is the beating heart of the Church Road and St Albans Road area.”

Ward councillor Sue Fazackerley told planning inspector Elizabeth Ord: “The Victoria would be a huge loss to the community as a community facility – there isn’t another similar establishment within quite a way – and I think the retailers locally would suffer if the economy generated by The Victoria was lost.”

Barrister Paul Tucker, acting for McCarthy and Stone, said: “We are not here to dispute that the pub is considered to be of value to its patrons and that for those who use the pub its loss will be deeply regretted.

That doesn’t mean permission should be withheld to allow that use to continue.”

(Proceeding).