Campaigners are celebrating after developers lost an appeal that would have allowed them to convert a community pub in to a 64-bed care home.
However, The Centurion in Oldfield Drive, Vicars Cross , was closed by the owners in January so there is no guarantee it will ever reopen.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has twice refused planning permission for the scheme by the LNT Construction who wanted to demolish the pub and redevelop the site owned by Admiral Taverns.
The Centurion Community Action Group, backed by all local politicians including Chester’s Labour MP Chris Matheson, is celebrating the appeal decision but urges caution.
Chairman Trevor Jones said on Facebook: “Please do not get carried away. LNT Construction will need to walk away and forget about the development before Admiral will start any discussions with us.
“Just enjoy the moment. This is a great victory for the community over a company that just wanted to asset strip the Vicars Cross community. Well done and thank you to all involved. Let’s keep going.”
He says future options could include Admiral reopening the pub, another pub group taking over or the activists taking on the lease to run it themselves.
Campaigners have always argued the pub served a social function with many of its clientele over 65. Nearest alternatives at The Piper and The Bridge Inn were too far away for some customers to walk.
Both the appellant, Ideal Care Homes Ltd – a subsidiary of LNT – and Admiral Taverns claimed the use of the premises as a public house was not viable.
But planning inspector Dr Roger Catchpole found the appellant had ‘failed to make an adequate case concerning financial viability’.
He added: “It is clear from the evidence before me that there is an established local need for the public house and the care home. Benefits would be derived from both. A public house would provide opportunities for meetings between local people and help to maintain a strong and vibrant community whilst a care home would contribute to the mix of housing and help to maintain a wide choice of quality homes.
“Whilst I find that these considerations are equally weighted, they would not be equivalent because a public house would serve a wider cross-section of the local community whereas the care home would only benefit one particular group.”
He concluded: “Given the above, I conclude that the proposal would cause significant harm to cultural and social well being of the local community and that the care home would not be of equal value.”
Neal Barnes, of Admiral Taverns, said: “We have today received the appeal decision today and as such will now take some time to review the content.”A comment is awaited from LNT Construction.