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Bid to turn former Saracens Head pub in Deal into house approved by Dover District Council

A battle to stop a historic pub from being turned into a house after more than 200 years has been lost - as councillors saw “no reason” to reject the plans.

Opponents had described the bid to convert the former Saracens Head in Alfred Square, Deal, into a residential property as “cultural vandalism”.

The Saracens Head in Deal. Picture: Matthew Brett
The Saracens Head in Deal. Picture: Matthew Brett

But at a Dover District Council planning committee meeting on Thursday, councillors were told there were nine other pubs or bars within walking distance and even one in the same square.

Members of the committee voted eight to one, with one abstention, to approve the application.

The applicant’s agent, Peter Hadley, told the meeting: “There have been various efforts to make the public house a profitable business but at the start of 2023 the premises were vacated by its last landlords.

“These were a local couple that did not make any profit but in fact made a significant loss in attempts to keep the premises open.”

Matthew and Martine Brett had left the pub last March after just 13 months.

Peter Hadley, application agent for the Saracens Head scheme in Deal
Peter Hadley, application agent for the Saracens Head scheme in Deal

Mr Hadley added: “No viable offers have been made to either the previous owner Shepherd Neame or to the applicant.

“It’s appreciated that a number of objectors wish to see the pub reopened. Other residents support the application, accepting the pub isn’t viable and want residential use due to concerns regarding noise and disturbance associated with drinking establishments.

“There are some nine others, all within easy walking distance of the application property, with the nearest being in Alfred Square itself, the Prince Albert.”

Cllr James Back said: “Our heritage team seems OK with this. There is a public house on the opposite corner, there’s also a pub in Middle Street – these are all really close. There’s a pub in the high street, plus Wetherspoons, plus more.

“There is no reason to refuse.”

The application for the four-bed house is by East Kent Developments of Orpington and council officers recommended approval

The scheme had six letters of support but 44 letters of objection.

One protester, Mr S Blower, wrote on the council’s planning portal: “Stripping a heritage asset is cultural vandalism.”

• Find out about planning applications that affect you by visiting the Public Notice Portal

A pressure organisation called Save the Saracens Group was set up to fight the application.

Its letter to the council said the pub had a catchment area of more than 1,000 households and until the Covid lockdowns had been busy and popular.

The Saracens Head building is thought to date back as far as 1806 when it housed a carpenter’s shop. It got its present name about 15 years later.

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