Saving the Spinkhill Angel

The Angel Hotel in the historic village of Spinkhill, North East Derbyshire, is owned by Punch Taverns. For several years it was managed by long-term landlords. However following a reported lack of support from Punch, the long-time landlords sought to retire from the industry in 2011 and the pub was put on the market for sale in the middle of 2012.

A number of temporary landlords were installed by the owners but in March 2013 the pub closed. Unfortunately the action taken by Punch Taverns was all too late and after years of no investment in the building or business the interior had become dated and the exterior sadly neglected.

When the ‘For Sale’ board went up it was clear that the owners were looking to sell it as housing development and not as a going concern, “Freehold Pub Development Potential STP”.

In May 2013, villagers in Spinkhill were shocked and outraged to discover that despite positive interest from several parties to develop the pub and restaurant, planning permission for ‘Change of Use’ was being sought to convert the pub into houses – including construction in the pub garden and car park. The applicant argued that the pub was not a viable business.

Fully understanding that The Angel Hotel has potential to be a vibrant and successful business, the residents of Spinkhill formed the ‘Save the Angel’ group and connected through email and a dedicated Facebook page. Almost unanimous objection to these plans resulted in more than 90 letters to the planning authority from villagers and members of the wider community. The application was subsequently withdrawn prior to a decision being made by the planning department.

However, in early July 2013, the developer submitted a revised planning application which conceded a small bar in the building on such a scale that it could only realistically be used to serve drinks. The plans involved converting the restaurant and kitchen into housing and building houses on the beer garden and customer car park. Shock news also came that the pub had been sold to the housing developer (STP).

There have been overwhelming objections to the latest application, including the local MP, Natasha Engel. In her letter to the planning department, Ms Engel wrote “I am of the view that this application would have a negative impact upon the village of Spinkhill in relation to a loss of facility.

Whilst the new proposal is to keep the Angel Hotel, this would be much smaller than currently exists. There would be no restaurant, no meeting room, no garden and no car park. The Angel Hotel pub would only have a small bar and no longer have the appeal of being family friendly. All of the community facilities that the Angel Hotel offered would be lost”.

In the meantime, the ‘Save the Angel’ group applied to have the pub (including public bar, restaurant, cellar, kitchens, management accommodation, hotel rooms, and beer garden) added to North East Derbyshire District Council (NEDDC) list of ‘Assets of Community Value’ (ACV) and on 17th September came the good news that the application had been successful, the first pub in NE Derbyshire to achieve this position. The ACV listing means that the building and gardens must remain in their present configuration and cannot be developed otherwise for the next 5 years.

Spinkhill village is now poised for the NEDDC Planning Committee decision and the neighbourhood group are set to represent their case at committee.

The village now hopes the latest planning application will be refused and the sale not go ahead.

Investment would be needed thereafter (possibly through community buy out) to purchase the Freehold and develop the pub into a family friendly public / eating house suitable for hosting community events and complete with restaurant, community room, and beer garden with play areas suitable for children.

Spinkhill resident, Andrew Truby says “The strength of community spirit has been overwhelmingly positive throughout this campaign. Villagers and those with connections to the village are desperate to save our pub. The recent successful application to have the pub listed as an asset of community value is very pleasing however we still await the outcome of the planning application before we know that the Angel’s site is safe from potential conversion to housing”.

For further information contact savetheangelspinkhill@gmail.com.

Jenny Elsley

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