Developer appeals over council failure to decide future of Stapleton pub

May 07 2022
Developer appeals over council failure to decide future of Stapleton pub

A GOVERNMENT inspector will now decide the future of a former Stapleton pub.

The owner of the Merchants Arms in Bell Hill, which closed in 2016, has appealed over Bristol City Council's failure to make a decision on plans to turn it into housing and a "function hall".

Red Rock Developments submitted the plans, which include a six-bedroom house in multiple occupation already established on the site, in February last year.

Planning applications are supposed to be decided on within eight weeks – or 13 for large or complex schemes.

Agent Stuart Rackham said: "An appeal has been submitted against the non-determination of the planning application by Bristol City Council.

"The decision on the application therefore now rests with an independent Planning Inspector who will consider the land use planning merits of the proposal in coming to a decision."

The developer says the building is "no longer economically viable" as a pub.

But residents formed a community interest company to try to buy the building last year. They were given a window to raise money and make an offer for the pub, as it has been listed as an 'asset of community value' to give it some protection from development.

The Merchants Arms Community Project CIC offered £490,000 for the site: more than the £475,000 Red Rock paid in 2016 but below the £975,000 the developer now says the site is worth – a figure the CIC described as "ludicrous".

Chris Faulkner Gibson, one of the CIC directors, said residents would oppose the appeal and believe they could have already won, had the council made a decision to refuse the plans on time.

He said: "We are disgusted and very angry that Bristol City Council's incompetence has led to this situation.

"We will make the strongest possible representations to the Planning Inspector: the fight is far from over."

He said enquiries through the Valuation Agency had shown that the pub had been "trading well" before its sudden closure.