Last orders have been called on a pub in Holbeach Drove in spite of a last-ditch plea to save it from being turned into a nursery.
The Golden Ball pub has been deemed to be no longer viable by its owners Public Inns Partnership – a fact disputed by Alex Brown at Wednesday’s meeting of South Holland District Council planning committee.
Resident Mr Brown told councillors: “I find it baffling anyone should close a viable pub and evicting the tenants who run it to replace it with a nursery in a village where there are few children.
“My other concern is the building will end up closed for many years and become a target for theft and squatting.”
Public Inns Partnership provided evidence of the operating losses of the pub under more than a dozen tenants and managers since it bought it in 2002 and how it has dropped the asking price four times – from £250,000 in 2009 to £155,000 most recently, in a bid to sell it.
One comment collected in the neighbour survey read: “It would be lovely to actually see some young children playing, laughing and enjoying it as it would bring more pleasure to the elderly people opposite.”
Another states: “The establishment has been nothing but trouble for many years with disturbances from noise – music, customers shouting, cars hooting late at night – drinking in the street, drunken behaviour and a build up of rubbish.”
The plan for the nursery has been put forward by new company Giggles of Gedney Hill, owned by Paula Somers.
She told the meeting: “Evidence suggests that due to a number of factors including the general economic downturn over recent years and multiple tenant debts, the public house is no longer a viable commercial proposition.
“We believe the nursery will have long-term benefits for the local community and intend taking an active part in it.”
Coun Chris Brewis said: “I wasn’t aware that the fact a facility was not viable was a planning consideration. If people want to close a pub you can’t force them to keep it open.”
Coun Christine Lawton pointed out that a petition to keep the pub open that contained 102 signatures included ones from Australia and Canada and questioned how much it should be taken into account.
She said: “A nursery is a place where parents can integrate and socialise, though not in quite in the same way as a pub.”