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Plans to convert former pub into home at Pontdolgoch approved on appeal

The Talkhouse - Pontdolgoch (Pic: Google Streetview)

RETROSPECTIVE plans to turn a former pub into a home, that were refused by Powys planners, have been approved by a Welsh Government planning inspector following an appeal.

In March last year Jacqueline Garratt lodged a planning application with Powys County Council 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 building had been a pub/restaurant up to 2010, after which it has been used as a bed and breakfast and then self-catering holiday let.

In June it was refused by Powys planning officer, Natalie Hinds on the basis 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.”

Due to this Ms Hinds believe the applicant had not “demonstrated” that the pub business is not viable.

In documents lodged with the appeal to the Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) Ms Garrett’s planning agent Tim Rogers pointed out that there had been no “outcry” from the community when the pub closed.

Mr Rogers said that the applicant had also received advice from a Powys planning officer that there was no need for a planning application to change the use to bed and breakfast when the pub/restaurant closed.

She had been told that this is because they were: “both hospitality uses which catered for visitors.”

Mr Rogers also supplied a list of over 30 pubs and restaurants in north and mid Powys that are for sale or rent.

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Planning inspector Siân Worden said: “The main issue in this case is whether the development has resulted in the loss of a community facility and, if so, whether that loss is justified.”

While not condoning the “circumvention of planning” by turning the pub into a home without permission, Ms Worden believed the applicant had asked for advice when the decision to change from a pub to bed and breakfast was being contemplated.

Ms Worden said: “I have no doubt that the conversation with the planning officer took place or that the advice proffered was as stated by the appellant.

“It would have been prudent to have kept a written record of the planning advice but, at that time, she possibly did not recognise its potential future significance.”

“The former pub ceased trading because it was unviable.”

Ms Worden said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “caused harm” to the hospitality industry and the situation has not improved since then.

The cost of installing or improving essential facilities in the building also needed to be factored in.

Due to this and without an ongoing pub business, Ms Worden believed that it is “unlikely” that the building would be an “attractive proposition” to a buyer as a pub.

Ms Worden said: “Consequently, it is doubtful that a marketing exercise would result in anything other than expense for the appellant.

“As the building has not been used as a pub for many years there is no community facility to be lost.

“I have taken all the matters raised into consideration and not found any good reason to refuse the appeal.”

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.