Hitchin MP Bim Afolami backs community campaign to save Grade II listed 17th century pub from property developer
By Layth Yousif
4th May 2021 | Local News
Hitchin MP Bim Afolami has vowed to help support a community campaign to save a Grade II listed 17th century pub.
The White Horse in Kimpton is under threat from property developers who want to convert it into residential space.
A change of use planning application has been lodged with North Herts District Council, to change the former pub to a mixed use site, "comprising a single residential dwelling, offices and associated lobby and micropub."
However, on a visit to the site to meet campaigners, Hitchin's parliamentarian vowed to help to save the White Horse.
"Pubs are so often at the heart of our communities and play a key part in keeping our villages vibrant," said Mr Afolami, a rising star in the Tory party, who has a large majority of nearly 7,000 in the constituency.
"Once we lose these things that hold the community together, they are gone forever," he explained.
"That's why I'm so passionate about supporting local residents, and will continue to liaise with the group and the local council to find a route that will return the pub to its former glory.
"A pub can fulfil a lot of social roles such as reducing loneliness and providing somewhere to socialise, which will be appreciated in a post-Covid society more than ever."
The pub closed in 2015 when the brewery sold the premises to a developer, but the community fought tooth and nail to prevent the change of use.
The Save Our White Horse community group successfully battled the planning application with the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by North Herts District Council six years ago.
In 2017 when the pub was put back on the market, the Kimpton community raised enough funds to buy it and put in an offer. The group were outbid by the present owner who, they say, pledged to restore and reopen the pub.
However, four years later, much to the frustration of many community-minded residents, the building fell into disrepair with a planning application submitted to NHDC.
The Save Our White Horse group say they have made several attempts to secure a deal with the present owner, with the ACV renewed in August 2020 for another five years in a bid to further protect the pub.
The group told Hitchin Nub News: "We will not give up our fight to buy it back for the community through community owned shares and make it a successful venue serving real ale and good food for both residents and visitors.
"With more houses being built in the village it is even more important to make sure that the pub is not lost for good.
"The signs of neglect of this historic building in the village's conservation area are clear: this once thriving pub is an important part of local heritage."
The group says that while the proposals show a suggested token micropub, the Kimpton community fears that this attempt to downsize will inevitably cause it to be unviable.
They say this could also result in the remainder of the building also being converted to residential property at a future date.
If you would like to help save The White Horse email [email protected]
Alternatively visit their website here to find out how you can object to the latest plans.
Or, you can simply post an objection on the NHDC website here
Please note you have until Friday (May 7) to do so under reference number 21/01018/FP.