On February 1, 2024, a proposal to convert the former Black Horse pub in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire into temporary housing for a Ukrainian refugee family was turned down. The decision by the West Northamptonshire Council and the government's planning inspectorate stands in line with previous policies against the loss of public houses.
Preserving Community Facilities
The council initially refused the application in October 2022, citing the potential loss of a community facility and the impact on the village's economic and social sustainability. The Black Horse pub, which ceased operation in March 2020, has since been used as an unlicensed community space by the charity, Friendship Zone.
The decision to reject the proposal underlines the importance of the pub to the rural community of Cold Ashby. Despite the cessation of its official operations, the pub has remained a significant community centre. The planning inspectorate echoed these sentiments, highlighting the lack of evidence that the pub couldn't reopen and trade successfully in the future.
Local Sentiment and National Interest
A petition to 'save The Black Horse' gained momentum, collecting 228 signatures. This figure reflects the local sentiment about the importance of preserving village amenities. While the national interest in supporting Ukrainian refugees is recognized, the planning inspector concluded that the proposal wasn't the only means to achieve this aim.
Response and Future Plans
Paul Kuznecovs, Director of Friendship Zone, expressed disappointment but acknowledged the mixed feelings within the community. The charity, despite the setback, now plans to submit a new planning application. This time, the focus is on establishing a village shop to cater to Cold Ashby's daily needs, further demonstrating its commitment to the community's welfare.