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Calls to save Railway Bell pub in River near Dover ahead of crunch decision on plans to convert venue into six flats


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There have been calls to save a 150-year-old pub ahead of a crunch meeting to decide its future.

The Railway Bell in London Road, River, closed last year and there are plans to turn the building into flats.

The Railway Bell in London Road. Picture: Google Maps
The Railway Bell in London Road. Picture: Google Maps

But neighbours want it saved and revived as a pub for the community.

It is right on the doorstep of neighbouring Temple Ewell and the parish council is asking Dover District Council to reject an application from Paramount Land and Development to convert it into six flats.

The scheme will be voted on by district councillors tomorrow night.

The Temple Ewell Parish Council (TEPC) letter to the planning department said: "The proposed redevelopment of this public house will mean the loss of a community asset, which has served the village of Temple Ewell for over 150 years.

"Until recently it had been a community hub, hosting the local Sunday League football team, and various live bands and other entertainment for parishioners.

"We are aware of at least two village pubs within the district that have recently successfully reopened following an extended period of closure."

"Whilst the public house has been closed for over a year, it is not entirely clear from the documents within the application to what extent the business was no longer viable as a going concern."

TEPC points out that the Office for National Statistics report from March 2019 indicated that the 10-year trend of public house closures had shown a dramatic reversal.

Its letter adds: "Indeed we are aware of at least two village pubs within the district that have recently successfully reopened following an extended period of closure."

Other villagers objecting to the proposal echo the parish council's point.

But the 34 letters also raised fears over extra traffic, the density of the development being too high, loss of privacy and light, pressure on infrastructure and need for more parking.

The planning committee vote is tomorrow
The planning committee vote is tomorrow

Those in support of the project noted that the "pub has struggled for some time already" and that the current site is also run down and neglected.

Planning officers have recommend the scheme for approval.

Their report on the application concludes: "The proposed development is considered to represent a sustainable scheme.

"The applicant has worked with the planning department over the course of a year and a half to resolve issues on the site, most prominently concerning design and the impact on the local street scene.

"All requests for development contributions have been agreed, including the provision of a pedestrian crossing, and while it is acknowledged that these represent what is required to make the proposal acceptable, rather than being a benefit over and above the existing situation, it nevertheless shows that the proposal could be accommodated."

The Dover District Council planning committee meeting is from 6pm tomorrow (Thursday) at the district council headquarters at the White Cliffs Business Park in Whitfield.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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