A ten-year row between an internet mogul and residents of a village in the North York Moors over the future of a historic inn will take a new turn this week.
Freeserve multimillionaire founder Peter Wilkinson has come up with proposals to convert the 239-year-old Plow Inn on Fadmoor, near Helmsley, into two locally occupied rental homes and four vacation homes.
And national park planners have indicated that denying his latest plan for the locals would be difficult to justify.
The request was reviewed last July, but after being deferred for more information on a community compulsory purchase request by Ryedale District Council and a viability assessment, Mr Wilkinson appealed to the ‘Planning inspection for non-determination.
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Consequently, the park administration can no longer rule on the request, but is required to notify the Planning Inspectorate if it has approved or refused the request.
Mr Wilkinson, owner of the 19,000-acre Pennyholme estate north of the village, closed the pub, which was featured in the Michelin Guide, in 2011, citing a lack of commerce and villagers’ access to a pub in the nearby town by Gillamoor.
In support of the request, the Applicant’s agents stated: “We appreciate that the previous planning request for the change of use to offices on the ground floor has been refused due to the registration of the ownership as a community asset and lack of supporting information for the viability of the enterprise.
“However, as the pub ceased operations in January 2011 and is now closed to the public and therefore makes no contribution to the community, it is clearly not a community asset.”
However, local residents insisted that the pub could be a viable business and The Fadmoor Community Pub Ltd, a public utility company regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, continued to campaign to buy and run the pub. a versatile community business.
Residents again opposed Mr Wilkinson’s plans, saying existing holiday accommodation businesses in the area would greatly benefit from a pub on Fadmoor, which remains indispensable on Fadmoor for residents.
In a letter of objection, a resident wrote: “There seems to have been a concerted effort to ensure the decline of the building to the point that it can be argued that it is an eyesore and that the redevelopment is the Only solution. A report from planning agents on the latest plans, indicates that the community appears to have the will and the finances to buy the pub closed if they can, and make it run successfully.
He adds: “The national park authority does not have the power to force the owner to sell; it should limit its examination to its own position in planning policy and whether or not a change in use would be supported.
“It would not be beneficial to continue to refuse alternative uses of these buildings which would have community and economic benefits while also solving an aggravating physical / environmental problem in an attractive heathland village.
“To do so, in the face of policies that would support the proposed new uses, it would be considered unreasonable and officers strongly advise that denying this request is difficult to justify.” ”
The national park authority’s planning committee will consider Mr Wilkinson’s revised proposal on Thursday.
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