THE owner of a rundown Herefordshire pub who is still wanting to reopen its doors to the public has blamed Herefordshire Council for the delays.

A packed village hall listened as farmer and businessman Kinsey Hern, who bought the Royal George pub in Lyonshall, near Kington, eight years ago, outlined a litany of abortive efforts to restore and reopen the grade II-listed pub.

Villagers have waited with growing concern, while a series of "pop up" bars has demonstrated a real need for Lyonshall to have a community hub.


Mr Hern said two successive council chief executives had visited the site over the years but that lack of progress had been “like a knife in the heart” for him.

“Herefordshire Council has restricted the ability to achieve what was set out 10 years ago,” he claimed.

“It’s a disaster but I won’t give up if support is there.”

He added: “The community needs a centre and I want it to be viable.”

His plans for the George, the last pub in a village which once boasted seven, include a bar, restaurant, shop, post office and cinema.

When previous owners Punch Taverns put the pub up for sale in 2012, the community was unsuccessful in raising sufficient funds to buy it.

With Lyonshall Parish Council’s blessing, Mr Hern bought the George, with the proviso that 42 self-build homes on his land would fund work to renovate it.

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Listed planning consent and building regulations took a “ridiculous” four years to get, he said.

“There was a huge amount of delay and everybody was already stressed about how long it was taking.”

Mr Hern told the meeting in the past eight years he had only been able to instruct work on-site for a total of five months.

He accepted that the issue of phosphates in the River Lugg catchment area had placed a moratorium on new builds, but has “worked tirelessly” to find a solution to the problem over the past three years.


“I have made mistakes and did not anticipate the lack of support from within Herefordshire Council,” he said.

“It’s all been a huge disappointment and embarrassment that the project should have stalled.”

He continued: “The council have simply restricted the ability to achieve what was set out 10 years ago.” His hopes and ambitions had been met with an “incredibly slow and turgid situation”.

Hereford Times:

On a positive note, his suggestion to convert a disused chicken shed into a restaurant received overwhelming support from the audience.

“I will continue to work on the George, but it’s going to take ages and so we’ve come up with a shorter-term fix.” Planning permission for the restaurant would take 56 days, he explained.

Herefordshire Council is trying to lift the building ban in the Lugg catchment with a wetland scheme designed to help with the phosphate problems.

It did not reply to the Hereford Times in response to the issues faced by Mr Hern.