Plans to convert run-down Northamptonshire village pub into shop and post office

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Plans have been submitted to convert a pub in a rural Northamptonshire village into a community shop after it stopped trading more than four years ago.

Owners of the now-closed Black Horse pub, in Cold Ashby, originally applied to use the pub to house a family of refugees from Ukraine temporarily, but were rejected by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) and then again at appeal by the Government’s planning inspectorate.

The planning inspector pointed out a total lack of other pubs in the small village and upheld the refusal on the basis that it would be an “unnecessary loss” of the facility and could sever community ties.

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The pub stopped trading in March 2020 when it closed its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was later put up for sale on the market.

The Black Horse pub in Cold Ashby.
Credit: GoogleThe Black Horse pub in Cold Ashby.
Credit: Google
The Black Horse pub in Cold Ashby. Credit: Google

The new plans, submitted by applicant Friendship Zone, have instead sought permission for a change of use to a village shop and post office to continue using the building as a pillar in the community.

A petition was launched in May 2022 to “save The Black Horse” and protect the village’s amenities which were few and far between according to signatories.

Planning documents state that the applicant, in the early stages of purchasing the property in 2021, did consider reopening the venue as a pub or restaurant but concluded that they were unviable.

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It added: “Whilst the economy is slowly recovering, the former Black Horse pub still struggles with local demand for the facility. The applicant means well and is genuinely trying to find common ground in which to provide a service to the local community, whereby researching alternative, cost-effective, community uses.

“Whilst the Memorial Village Hall is not a substitute for a village pub, it does offer an alternative establishment for purchasing of food and drink in a social environment. The proposed conversion into a new village shop and post office will increase the offering of community facilities for the village now that the Hall has increased its attendance.

“The applicant has spoken to village shop owners in the surrounding villages, who have confirmed that the location is ideal for passing trade, as well as serving the local residents.”

The former left-hand bar area is proposed to become the community shop and the right-hand side of the building will make up the post office and non-food shop area. Designs show there is currently space for four cars to park around the back of the building.

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No alterations to the building or external works are being proposed as part of the application. The applicant has also proposed placing a new clothing bank donation point in the car park to provide further use of the site.

A target decision date of July 26 has been set for the plans by WNC.