PLANS to transform a disused pub that has lay dormant for three years into new homes have been rejected by planning chiefs.
MJ Barrett construction had applied to transform the Blacksmith’s Arms, in Hoar Cross, and its car park into eight homes.
But East Staffordshire Borough Council’s planning committee voted six to five in favour of their officers’ recommendation to reject the proposal.
And the pub and car park, which have become an eyesore for Birch Cross residents and those using the B5017 in recent years, will stay as they are.
Planning officers said the development would be ‘unsustainable’ as the site is too isolated and residents would be unable to access amenities on foot.
It was also considered there was a lack of safe walking routes to nearby villages, despite the fact Marchington is less than a mile away.
Before voting to accept the proposal, councillor Peter Ball said: “I’m surprised at the officers’ recommendations and the reasons they’ve given.
“If you want to live in a rural area, you don’t expect shops on your doorstep.
“There’s only one shop in Marchington and I’d say people living in Birch Cross have better access to the metropolis of Uttoxeter than Marchington residents.
“If the application is accepted it will tidy up a disused area that’s really awful to look at it in its present state.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to the site moving forward if this is rejected and I fear it’ll be left in that state for some time.”
Officer Philip Somerfield said: “If this is approved, we’ll find a spate of applications coming in to build houses in the countryside which we’d have difficulty rejecting.”
Had it been accepted, the Blacksmith’s would have been split in two and converted into separate dwellings.
Six new houses, three of which would have been ‘barn conversion-style’ and three terraced together, would have been built on the dilapidated car park.
The pub has been opening and closing sporadically in recent years, with no recent owner managing to turn a profit consistently.
Nearly five years ago a car smashed into the side of the pub, demolishing an entire wall.
Janet Hodson, the agent working on the project, said there was ‘no rationale’ in rejecting the proposal.
Addressing the meeting before the committee reached its conclusion, she said: “I believe there is real gain – and no loss – to be made from this development.
“Marchington Parish Council made it clear that, if their concerns about strain on the highways and parking were addressed, they’d support the scheme.
“The borough doesn’t have an adequate housing supply and the development could provide homes for many people.”