Beloved village pub set to reopen as housing plans to fund renovation are approved

A much-missed village pub is set to reopen after plans were approved for three houses to be built behind it to fund the renovation.

The Acton Arms, Morville
The Acton Arms, Morville

The Acton Arms in Morville, west of Bridgnorth, has been closed for over two years, and Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee heard at a meeting on Tuesday that the entire community wanted to see it brought back to life.

Planning officers had recommended refusal of the scheme on the grounds that local housing targets had already been surpassed, and therefore adding three more homes could not be justified by the “limited” benefits of reopening the pub.

However the committee disagreed and voted to grant planning permission, after hearing impassioned pleas from the pub’s owner James Collins, local councillor Robert Tindall and representatives from the Save The Acton Arms Group (STAAG).

An earlier application was rejected by the committee in April, when members said there was not enough concrete assurance that the proceeds of the sale of the housing plots would see the pub reopened.

Planning officer Andrew Sierakowski said the new application was “identical”, but now included the refurbishment of the pub.

He said: “The argument being made is that there is a benefit being delivered by the development of housing to enable the repair and renovation and bringing the pub back into operation.

“So the issue before you is whether or not you consider that there is sufficient benefit in the proposal as a whole, in relation to bringing the pub back into use, to justify what otherwise would be approval contrary to policy.”

Morville resident and newly elected parish councillor Dr Pam Yuille spoke in support of the application, saying: “It was while canvassing I became aware that reopening the Acton Arms pub was the single most important issue for many of the parishioners.”

Dr Yuille said the parish council had unanimously supported the application and the STAAG, of which she is a member, had received 39 offers from local people willing to volunteer in the renovation efforts.

There were 14 letters of support from villagers in response to the planning application and no objections.

Fellow STAAG member Anthony Pitchers said: “The Acton Arms is the only pub in Morville, and if the applicant’s proposal is refused he will apply for change of use and put the pub and land up for sale. Thus no-one will benefit and the community will lose a potentially valuable asset.”

The committee voted unanimously in support of the application.

Councillor Tony Parsons said: “I think it will be good as far as the village is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be anyone there that’s against this proposal.

“The pub in the long term may or may not succeed but this in my view is the only way that it can succeed.”

Mr Sierakowski said before permission can be formally issued the application would need to be re-advertised as a departure from the local development plan, and if any objections were raised at this stage it would need to come back before the committee.

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