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The George pub in Yalding could become farm shop and café

A plan to convert a Grade II-listed village pub into a farm shop and cafe has split opinion.

An application has been put in to change the use of the ground floor of The George, in Benover Road, Yalding.

The George in Yalding could become a farm shop
The George in Yalding could become a farm shop

The farm shop proposal, put forward by applicant Mr D Mahendran, shows around two thirds of the floor space would become the store with a cafe and bar area occupying the rest of the space.

The proposition has riled many in the village making their opinions know of the new application.

A villager took to Facebook to rally support against the plans, sharing a form which offers reasons to keep the building as a pub.

The form suggests it could still be a viable business for the right owner and it is unique in the fact it has both indoor and outdoor facilities.

Ian Simmons also voiced his concerns in a letter opposing the application.

The floor plan for the farm shop and café that could be created at the George
The floor plan for the farm shop and café that could be created at the George

He said: "Our worry is that we will lose the oldest pub in the village, the only licensed premises in the village with a lovely outside garden space in spring, summer and autumn.

"The existing proposal just looks like a café with a few tables and chairs."

Valerie Lovett said: "If it is as stated a farm shop and will showcase local produce then fine but it needs to do that.

"Realistically we have enough facilities and pubs in the area so I could be welcome for a shop but it has to work with the community."

Chairman of the Yalding Parish Council Geraldine Brown said: "I don't think it'll make a difference.

Chairman of Yalding Parish Council, Geraldine Brown
Chairman of Yalding Parish Council, Geraldine Brown

"These days you have to be realistic. There are a lot of pubs in the district.

"I'd rather it was occupied and open to the community."

The pub has been a feature of the village for centuries with documents showing its licensees being recorded as far back as 1838 but its history is said to date to the 1500s.

It was initially earmarked to become housing in 2015 but the application was withdrawn and a new landlord and landlady, Tony and Julie Chalker, took over.

On May 21, last year, Tony was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was punched in the throat by an unwanted guest.

The pub was running a ticketed event in the evening when a group of 30 people arrived. Tony and Julie invited them to stay for one drink but asked they leave once it turned 8pm.

As Tony tried to usher them out, a man ran back in and punched him in the throat, causing him to fall to the ground.

The blow left him struggling to breathe and he was rushed to hospital.

He said: "All the doctors said we don't know how you're alive.

"They kept bringing students in to look as they said they probably won't ever see someone in my condition again.

Our worry is that we will lose the oldest pub in the village

"I was just lucky there were paramedics there already enjoying their night."

Tony spent 10 days in hospital with a collapsed throat, concussion and a slipped disc in his spine - all of which left him with long-lasting problems.

The couple are no longer with the pub after leaving in September last year due to troubles with a bridging loan taken out on the property.

They took the short-term loan as a way to free up funds to invest in a business proposition but, due to Covid forcing the pub to shut, they weren't able to find a long-term lender.

The couple fell into default and by November 2021 they went into receivership.

They had tried to sell the pub in June 2019 but couldn't find a buyer.

The pub was not able to reach the levels of trade pre-Covid and so by November last year it closed its doors permanently.

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