CAMPAIGNERS trying to save one of Cheshire’s oldest pubs have raised objections to a new planning application at the site.

Most of the land associated with the Holly Bush, Little Leigh, was sold off in lots to various buyers, which included three separate buildings previously used for overnight accommodation. 

The owners of two of these, the Barn and Bungalow, have now applied for planning permission to reduce the number of bedrooms across both buildings from nine to six.

But campaigners to save the pub have raised objections via Cheshire West and Chester Council's (CWAC) planning portal, claiming this is just a 'disguised' attempt to turn the Barn and Bungalow into a private home.

They claim a proposed new 'communal utility space' included in the planning application, as well as new ‘owner/occupier accommodation’, are further evidence of the owners intention to turn the buildings into a residence. 

Although there’s no formal proposal to alter current use of the buildings, the application included a request to separate the Barn and Bungalow from the pub, so it can operate as an independent business.

The campaigners, who want to buy the pub and re-open it, say if the plans are approved, it would have a 'detrimental' impact on its viability as a business going forward. 

In a planning statement, prepared by Harry Kennedy and Associates on behalf of the applicant, it says: “The proposal seeks to maintain six bedrooms with ensuite bath or show rooms as rental accommodation.

"These rooms will be served by a new communal space. An owner/occupier accommodation provision is also proposed.

"The continuation of the existing bedrooms in both Barn and Bungalow as rental accommodation does not constitute a change in operation.

"Nonetheless, a change of use to sui generis is sought in order to separate the use from the former public house and regularise the independent use of the buildings."

Campaigners claim the local community has already pledged enough money to buy the pub, which has been auctioned unsuccessfully several times, along with associated land including the Barn and the Bungalow. 

They say they are ready to buy it now and open it after refurbishment, but have been prevented from doing so by the seller withdrawing it from auction. 

An objection published on the planning portal on August 15, states: "The Barn is an important integral element in the Holly Bush site. Granting this planning permission will significantly frustrate the re-opening of the Holly Bush as a viable pub.

"The reopening of the pub following sympathetic and compliant refurbishment will improve amenity, local employment and benefit the conservation area.

"The plans indicate the configuration is clearly designed for a private residence, and not as stated for 'letting rooms'.

Another objection published on August 14 says: “This is an attempt to create a residential property disguised as commercial property.

“Granting such a proposal would detrimentally affect the reopening of the Holly Bush pub as a profitable commercial entity.”