A bid to convert a historic Herefordshire pub into a house has reached the end of the road for now.

The plan was to turn the three-storey Crown & Sceptre in Bromyard, which has been closed since 2016, into a five-bedroom house.

It was refused in February last year, with the council’s development manager ruling that it had not been demonstrated the plan would not harm the river Lugg special area of conservation (SAC).

This was despite listed building consent being granted for the change to the Grade II listed pub, which dates from the early 19th century.

The applicant, Jude Kennefick, then appealed the decision, leading to a Government-appointed planning inspector Gareth Thomas being brought in to rule on the case.

Mr Kennefick submitted a report to the appeal showing that were it to reopen as a pub, which it could do without planning permission, the building would have a much greater impact on the SAC than would a single home.

Indeed the pub manager’s flat within the building is already occupied, he pointed out.


But the inspector disputed the comparison, saying the report “relies on the flows likely from the previous public house use”, which pre-dated the ruling that the SAC was in failing condition.

“There is therefore a failure to demonstrate that the appeal scheme would not add to the existing nutrient burden or that it would achieve ‘nutrient neutrality’,” he said.

The pub’s potential reopening “could not be considered the fall-back position”. And though he conceded the likely pollution from a large house over the two-bedroom manager’s flat “would not be substantial”, the inspector said he was obliged to adopt “a precautionary approach”.

“Until strategic solutions are developed, it will remain difficult for smaller developments such as the appeal scheme to demonstrate nutrient neutrality,” he noted.

Mr Thomas also backed the council’s later reason for opposing the bid, that it had not been demonstrated the pub could still find a community use.

“The appeal property has not been the subject of recent marketing, with the appellant relying on marketing undertaken by the pub’s previous owners some four years ago,” he said, noting this put the plan in conflict with current county planning policy.

But he acknowledged that given the present economic climate, “I have little confidence that there would be very much change in the conclusions previously reached”.

The marketing exercise was part of an earlier bid to turn the pub into three one-bedroom flats, demolish the function room to the rear and build four more flats in the grounds, which was approved in 2018 but never implemented.