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Planners give green light to conversion of Scared Crow pub in West Malling to housing

It looks likely that a “treasured” village pub will be lost to housing.

An application was submitted to Tonbridge and Malling council by the landlady, Tina Beadle, of the Scared Crow in Offham Road, West Malling, for permission to convert it into two family homes, each of three bedrooms.

The Scared Crow pub in West Malling
The Scared Crow pub in West Malling

She said the business was no longer viable.

She submitted a viability report based on past earnings, which was examined by planners, who agreed the figures showed the pub was only “marginally viable.”

It was said the pub was compromised through having no parking.

Ms Beadle previously told Kent Online: “I feel like I’m bashing my head against a brick wall. It’s nigh on impossible for a small independent pub like mine to survive.”

The pub was declared an Asset of Community Value in 2021, meaning its importance to the community was recognised.

Scared Crow landlady Tina Beadle
Scared Crow landlady Tina Beadle

The listing gave the community the opportunity to seek to purchase the pub for themselves should it ever be put on the market.

Ms Beadle served notice of her intention to dispose of the property in January 2022, but no community bid has come forward to take it on.

The pub sits on an island surrounded by Offham Road and Churchfields. It is within a conservation area, but the borough council has judged that its conversion will not result in significant harm.

The proposal will see the erection of a first-floor extension above an existing single-storey southwest extension; the demolition of an existing single-storey south section and its replacement with a two-storey extension.

Additionally, there will be alterations to the two-storey northwest wing to form a new roof.

Happier times: Landlady Tina Beadle and chef Fabio Moro at the Scared Crow
Happier times: Landlady Tina Beadle and chef Fabio Moro at the Scared Crow

West Malling Parish Council objected to the conversion saying the Scared Crow was a well loved pub, that the conversion would result in significant harm to the heritage value of the site, and that it would result in poor quality accommodation for any future residents.

There were only eight other submissions made – but four of those were in favour of the conversion.

It is very likely that the plan would have been approved by planning officers using delegated powers had it not been that the agent acting for the applicants is himself a borough councillor.

Cllr Adem Mehmet, the Conservative councillor for Trench Ward, is a director of Highgate Planning and Development.

So a final decision will be made by the council’s Area 2 planning committee meeting in the council chamber at the TMBC offices in Gibson Drive, Kings Hill, next Wednesday, December 6, at 7.30pm.

Cllr Adem Mehmet is the planning agent
Cllr Adem Mehmet is the planning agent

To see more planning applications and other public notices for your area, visit publicnoticeportal.uk

To view the details of this planning application, click here.

Look for application number 23/01006.

The closure of the Scared Crow will still leave West Malling with five other pubs, the Malling Town Club, and many licensed restaurants.

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