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Appeal lodged in bid to convert former pub into home

The Talkhouse - Pontdolgoch (Pic: Google Streetview)

AN APPEAL has been lodged with Welsh Government planning inspectors in a bid to overturn Powys planners’ refusal to allow a former pub to officially become a home.

In March last year, Jacqueline Garratt lodged a retrospective planning application to change the use of The Talkhouse at Pontdolgoch near Caersws from a pub/restaurant/bed and breakfast/self-catering holiday let into a residential dwelling.

The application included a detached building which is used as a holiday let.

Ms Garratt said that the building had been a pub/restaurant up to 2010, after when it had been used as a bed and breakfast and then self-catering holiday let.

In the early 1990s the Talkhouse was known as the Mytton Arms. It is a detached two storey stone property which was originally constructed and run as a coaching inn for travellers in the 17th century.

In June, planning officer Natalie Hinds refused planning permission on the grounds that changing the use of the building would “result in the unjustified loss of a community facility.”

Ms Hinds believed the proposal contravened policy and said: “It has not been actively marketed as a public house for at least six months to test the current market.

“Alternative solutions for the business have not been demonstrated to be economically unviable.”

Planning agent, Timothy Rogers explained that Ms Garrett had bought “into” the property in 2003 and together with a partner ran a pub/restaurant business with three letting rooms and living accommodation up to August 2012.

Mr Rogers said “At that point the business was no longer viable, and the use changed.

“During that time planning permission was obtained for the conversion of the stable building to an annex and the owners occupied this a year after the cessation of the pub/restaurant use.”

Mr Rogers explained that the main building ran as a bed and breakfast up to 2015 and then was let for self-catering holiday use up to July 2022.

Mr Rogers said: “It is acknowledged that the last lawful use of the property was as a pub/restaurant.

“It should however be noted that when such a use ceased the appellant did consult with a planning officer at Powys County Council and was informed that planning permission was not required for bed and breakfast use as both were hospitality uses which catered for visitors.”

Mr Rogers argued that the policy should be used to protect “existing” community facilities and that the pub, like the station, shop, smithy, and bakery in Pontdolgoch had all gone as the local population is not big enough to “maintain them.”

Mr Rogers said: “There was no outcry from the local community when the use ceased and there were no objections to the planning application which was refused.”

He also pointed out that the hospitality industry has been “struggling for decades” and that the Covid-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis had “compounded” the problem.

To provide evidence of this Mr Rogers has included a list of over 30 pubs and restaurants from Llanymynech down to Rhayader and across from Machynlleth to Knighton that are for sale or rent.

Mr Rogers added: “Can it really make sense to make the appellant add another to this list and advertise a property that has not been used as pub/restaurant for over ten years.”

Final comments from all parties are due to be submitted later this month.