The Chippenham was closed with little warning in early 2015 after being purchased by developers. A dilapidated ‘shop’ has since been run out of the premises in a clear attempt to circumvent planning guidelines that protect pubs.
The owners have applied for the pub to be re-designated a retail unit under planning regulations, using the supposed discount ‘shop’ they have been running as their way round the rules.
Labour Councillors; Ruth Bush, Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca, ‘called in’ the decision and insisted it be considered at a full planning committee, rather than as a tick box exercise.
The Committee met on the evening of 15 March and Cllr Roca spoke on behalf of residents. Aside from the community arguments, he made the case that no reasonable person having visited the ‘shop’ would believe it was a serious retail business, and that it was a clear attempt to get round planning rules. After consideration the Committee declined to approve the application until it had seen further evidence from the owners to prove the shop was what it said it was; till receipts, invoices, wage slips etc.
Cllr Tim Roca commented on the news:
“This is a welcome temporary reprieve. Most of us clearly want the Chip to return to its former glory and I shudder to think of what may have happened in the meantime to some of the historic interiors. The Pub sits in a prominent site at the junction of the Chippenham, Shirland and Malvern Roads. However, it now looks a sorry sight compared to the well maintained and liked community pub it was just a year ago. Though the law is very narrow in this area I have asked Council Officers to contact the owners of the Chippenham so we can establish a dialogue and get community input into the future of such an important local building.”