Indignant villagers at Wisborough Green are protesting at what they claim would be a ‘travel lodge’ style of development in the garden of a once-loved local pub.
Mike and Jill Goodman, who, 18 months ago, became the latest in a recent succession of owners of the Grade II listed Three Crowns, are seeking planning consent for two timber-clad, single-storey buildings to provide five bedrooms for bed and breakfast accommodation.
The couple say, in an era when village pubs are closing or being converted to housing, they want to ensure the future viability of the Three Crowns, which stands on the A272 in the heart of the village.
The pub, close to one of the most traditional village greens in the country, was once popular with locals and visitors but has declined over the past five years, since long-established landlords Brian and Sandie Yeo sold the business.
The couple now run their own B&B next door to the pub. It is one of four such businesses already existing in Wisborough Green and objectors say that is sufficient to meet demand.
More than two dozen letters of objection to the garden development have so far been posted on Chichester District Council’s planning website.
Arguments range from the loss of a significant area of garden space at the only pub in the village which has an enclosed garden, to the impact on the view from the green and parking problems which would be caused as the Three Crowns has no parking space of its own.
There is also strong resistance on the grounds the pub is a key feature in the village conservation area.
One protester has written to the district council: “Such a development, which some have likened to a travel lodge, would be detrimental to every conservation rule and law imaginable.”
Objector Gill Charnaud voiced widely-held fears when she told the district council in a letter: “The present owners do not actually reside in the property and would not therefore be able to provide B&B facilities.
“The project would thus appear to be a property development project rather than a bona fide B&B project.”
The Three Crowns is being run by a manager and his partner and is currently open Wednesday to Sunday.
Owners Mike and Jill Goodman say they have made several amendments to the scheme which they hope will alleviate the concerns of the village.
Mr Goodman told the Observer this week that, among the amendments, the number of rooms had been reduced from seven to five and instead of one building, they were now in two small buildings styled in the manner of outbuildings or stables which might have been found at the 16th-century pub.
He declared: “This is not a property development, it is a long-term investment for us.”