Newsletter March 2018

Having had their original plans for The George and its outbuildings comprehensively rejected by Chiltern District Council (CDC) nearly two years ago, owners Amplio Developments are expected to re-apply to develop the site for residential use in the next few weeks. It is a move we consider unlikely to help The George to return to  its proper use as a coaching inn with letting rooms or to end the unsightly state of the site blighting the South West end of the High Street

Hoping to garner support for a new application for The George site, Amplio has told Great Missenden Village Association  that the majority of  the application to convert the inn to residential use will remain as in the previously  refused application. We believe they hope that the designation and sale of part of the front building as a Pub will satisfy the village enough to get the village to support their plans for conversion of the rest.

Significantly the “sale” last October  (2017) of part of The George buildings to a mysterious company for use as a public house appears as a search on the Land Registry but not as yet a sale

The “sale” apparently consists of the part of The George to the right of the downpipe on the front elevation going back to include the Georgian extension to the rear. This section is now being marketed by agents John Nash as a public house on a 10 year tenancy at an initial annual rent of  £30,000. While this might appear good news for those wanting to save the old coaching inn, we consider it a ploy by Amplio to placate local opposition and smooth the path for the local authority to approve their plans for the rest.

The “sale” only includes the bar, toilets & store at the rear and manager’s flat. It did not include the other letting bedrooms previously part of the pub or the kitchen or the car park or of course the lodgings/courthouse range which made the George a  Coaching Inn. The sale particulars also do not make clear who will have responsibility for the cost of the extensive refurbishment and redevelopment required for the pub trading areas and staff accommodation other than saying “the property will be subjected to ‘some’ repairs and improvements by thepresent owners.”

We believe the reduced income streams and diminished ambience of a surrounding environment changed from pub to residential use will give little realistic hope the pub will open again or, if it does, remain trading over the longer term. In its new guise it will be harder to attract the right calibre of tenant while the reduced income from letting accommodation and catering will damage viability. Besides depriving the village of the benefit of visitor accommodation, the result could mean the pub will not re-open or, if it does, it would fail to trade viably thereby allowing a better  case for a change of use (surely this is not Amplio’s intention!)

 

As we understand it, the rest of the application will remain largely as the one previously refused. That is the conversion of the buildings on site to residential use, construction of a new dwelling and formation of domestic spaces.

Giving its reasons for refusing consent for the original application, CDC said the proposals would “seriously affect the way in which the listed buildings could be seen, experienced and understood. The buildings would cease to read as a single entity and would no longer express a sense of historic relationship and shared special purpose. This would result in a very high level of harm to the special interest and setting of the listed buildings.”

 

If our understanding the content of the new application is correct it is unlikely to change those views or the likely outcome. CDC will surely remain true to their previous judgement.

We believe the actions are tantamount to holding the village and local authority to ransom by saying in effect: “Either back our plan this time or put up with a derelict site for years, as owners, we have that power ” We are not entirely sure that they have this power of course.

 

We have offered Amplio an alternative – to sell to the Save the George campaign. We will sympathetically develop the Grade II* listed coaching inn, the historically important Courthouse and the rest of the site, proposals that have the backing of Historic England. Our plan is to create a vibrant community pub, a spectacular place for visitors to stay or for local people to hold events. A place to enjoy tea on the terrace or pre dinner rinks in front of a logfire. A staging post for walkers and riders. It would be a business that would bring economic benefits to the village and restore and enhance the beauty and vibrancy of the South West end of the High Street. It would give that hotel experience to the village which it currently lacks. The George is in the village Conservation Area in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it is about all of us. It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to take The George Great Missenden’s last Coaching Inn away from the village.

 

Thanks to the generous backing of local residents we were able to offer Amplio their £424,800 purchase price when their planning application was rejected and have funds available to restore and develop the pub. However Amplio rejected our original offer and subsequent offers and have now muddied the waters for hopes of a purchase by the apparent disposal of part of The George. Our offer still stands, our commitment to the cause is still 100%

 

In their 4 years of ownership Amplio have complied with repair orders but have otherwise done nothing to enhance the derelict look of these  site. They have insulted these architecturally important buildings and those that have to look at them day after day. For Great Missenden to lose the last coaching inn in the village is WRONG. We should not let this gem slip through our fingers. Please support the campaign and when the next planning application is registered or even before please make your objection clear. If you haven’t done so please also sign up for our newsletter on our website www.savethegeorge.co.uk. or follow us on Facebook or Twitter