Dragons Head Objection

The documents related to the Dragons Head Application were  updated on the 12 of this month. One of the new documents is an objection by a Mrs. Kate Manders to the planning application. I am so astounded by the content and inaccuracies that the objection contains that I post it in full below.

I would love to hear how many people agree with Kate that “the majority of villagers (excluding one or two Parish Councillors) have no faith in the application”.  In fact the Parish Council wrote to the Planning Department saying “Parish Councillors are unanimously IN SUPPORT of this application.”

Somebody is telling pork pies. However, here are Kate’s comments:

I object in the strongest possible terms to the application for planning for the Dragon’s Head, on several counts. Whittington has a major problem with parking, and the proposal to remove the existing car park from the rear of the pub and convert it into access for housing will cause yet more problems with unsafe parking in the village. It will endanger lives, cause congestion and the access from the proposed three houses onto Main Street on a difficult and potentially blind corner will be dangerous.

In addition, I do not believe that any business plan submitted by the applicant is genuine. Whittington needs a pub. Not a tea room with a pub that may or may not open 2 or 3 evenings a week. This is not be a viable business plan but a cynical attempt to get planning permission for housing. It is my guess that, when the business fails in 2-3 years
time, the applicant will then say that it was never a viable option and seek permission to convert the pub building into residential accommodation.

The applicant has held the village to ransom since he bought the premises with a threat that he can only open a pub if he can build houses. This is nonsense. Why did he not refurbish the pub when he first bought it, and promised us it would be open by Christmas 2015? In my opinion, any reason he gives for needing to build houses in order to reopen the pub is not based on commercial reality, but greed. If he needs money to build the houses at the back, then surely opening the business as soon as possible after purchase would have been a priority.

Thirdly, the building of any housing at the back of the pub will destroy what could be a valuable asset to the pub, namely the beer garden. No customers will want to sit in a beer garden at the front of the building and breathe in traffic fumes and look at the village hall, when
they could have been sitting at the back looking at the view. It makes no sense. In addition, any seating at the front will further limit vehicle access to the back, making the entrance yet more unsafe.

I have absolutely no faith in the application, and despite the opinions or one or two members of the Parish Council, a quick vox poll of villages would tell you that neither do the majority of the residents of the village.

There are plenty of ideas locally about how the pub could be reopened and be a real asset to the community. It
does not require holding the village to ransom with demands for houses that are unnecessary – housing already for sale in the village is not selling, and the building of 18 further properties on Whittington Farm will reduce demand even further. Without the necessary
infrastructure of village amenities, the village is not as attractive to potential buyers as others in the area.

I trust you will include these comments in your decision process.

Mrs. Kate Manders.

10 thoughts on “Dragons Head Objection”

  1. I can only assume that Kate hasn’t seen the site plans. Firstly having removed the outbuildings the car park has increased to a capacity of 13 vehicles, which is practically double what it used to be. The lower car park was rarely used by pub visitors, and for many years stored caravans. It isn’t the job of the pub to provide off street parking for residents of the village, only users of the pub. Access and clarity at entrance and exit have been massively improved. I am sure someone will explain the drawings to Kate if she only seeks clarification.

    Kate’s second paragraph is a shocking collection of her opinions, assumptions based on no evidence, a lack of understanding of architectural drawings and a poor grasp of business plans. Her business experience is gained from her involvement in eight different ventures over the last eleven years. I’m inclined to trust Simon’s acumen more.

    She says that Simon Nutter has; 1). held the village to ransom, 2). threatened to only open the pub if he gets planning permission for dwellings, 3). made a promise to open by Christmas 2015, 4). that his decisions are based on greed. And then, to cap it all she suggests that she has a knowledge of business economics superior to that of a man who has specialised in that business for so many years. Frankly I believe that Kate’s assertions verge on slanderous.

    Her remarks about the beer garden are evidence of her lack of familiarity with the pub. If the beer garden was ever used it was not by regulars. It was by caravaner’s and the occasional hiker, the tables at the front of the pub was where the majority of people sat, because they are in the sun most of the time. Once again her comments also show an ignorance of the plans. The proposed arrangements at the front are a massive improvement which will vastly enhance visibility as a result of the removal of badly parked vehicles.

    Her reference to support from only one or two Councillors flies in the face of the evidence. Where she gets her Vox Populi participants from I do not know because her evidence is the direct opposite to the comments from contributors to the Blog and everyone I have spoken to. Or has she just made it up?

    If there are “plenty of ideas” about how the pub could be reopened I would dearly love to hear them. I notice that although 100 people signed the Dragons Head petition Kate wasn’t one of them. However, on a more positive note, her mother did.
    Finally. The residents of the village need to realise that Kate has actually passed these comments to the Planning Committee, we can only hope that her minority view does no reflect badly on the Application. Certainly there are those among us who will take it very badly if we lose our pub due to one ill informed objector. It may be too late to email or write to the committee but it is still possible to attend the Planning Meeting on the 31st May and show our support. I will post directions and time on Monday of next week.

  2. Whatever the arguments for and against, is it really acceptable to post such a personal attack on Kate? She has every right to submit an objection to a planning application without the fear of being publicly ‘named and shamed’ in this manner.

    Allow me to quote your own ‘House Rules’:

    “At all times please respect the views and opinions of other Network members…

    This Network is not to be used for the “Naming and Shaming” of individuals, any comments or posts relating to this will be removed.”

    1. Dear Jim,
      I gave a lot of thought to the comments I made regarding Kate’s objection to Simon Nutters Application. I concluded that as Kate had named herself in her public Objection the matter did not arise.
      In making my comments I had already researched, fully, the actual documents comprising the Application. The Planning Statement runs to 30 pages, and is singularly comprehensive in covering the objections made to the second application 16/01373/FUL.
      Reference to the Site Plan 1431.25B shows quite clearly that, at the pub alone, there is parking for 13 vehicles, with parking for 2 more at the barn conversion and an additional 5 at the proposed three houses. In addition provision is made for overspill and visitor parking for at lease three more vehicles. This makes a total of 23 spaces. Previously there was parking for 3 vehicles at the front, 3 on the rear car park, 2 in front of the “Barn” and, if you were very lucky two or three at the lower car park, making a maximum of 11. Therefore Kate’s observations regarding parking are simply wrong.
      Nowhere in the Application does it suggest that the pub will only open two or three evenings a week. Indeed the “Applicants Statement” is quite specific as to the intentions for the pub, Shop, Post Office, Team Room as well as the high end Bed & Breakfast accommodation. Kate “guesses” that the intention is to apply for material change of use to a domestic premise “when the business fails in two to three years”. Not only should she not be hypothesising on her “guesses” but even the slightest study of the ground and upper floor plans, shown on drawing 1431.34A, shows what an unlikely event this is. Who, having Kate’s suppositions in mind, would propose the removal of the existing staircase, the addition of three new entrances, a significant increase in toilet facilities including disabled toilets, and the introduction of an independent entrance for the upper floor?
      If Kate has evidence regarding the threats she alleges the Applicant has made then she should evidence them, otherwise she has laid herself open to the charge of slander. For example she states categorically that “he bought the premises with a threat that he can only open a pub if he can build houses”. Who did he make that statement to? And then “promised us it would be open by Christmas 2015” when in fact the first Planning Application didn’t go in until June 2016. And then to state, without reservation that the Application “is not based on commercial reality, but greed” smacks of malice.
      I am passing no further comment about Kate’s observations on the beer garden and the use of the tables at the front for sitting out. Her remarks are simply contrary to what has happened in practice over many years, as every user of the pub knows.
      Her observations about the feelings of the Parish Council are in direct contradiction of those expressed by our District Councillor Peter Williamson in paragraph three of his letter of support. I believe that he is in a position to be better informed than Kate Manders.
      Finally I come to Kate’s observations on the veracity of the Applicants Business Plan. As I don’t know Kate I had to consult the published data provided by Companies House, and Kate’s own published information on LinkedIn.
      Kate has been a Company Director of Companies: 07450370, dissolved after two years; 06322406 where she was employed for 9y 7m; 05731953 Insolvent after two tears; 07876472 Dissolved after three years; and a further four organisations having no formal status, or published accunts. All this activity took place in the last eleven years. With this information to hand I decided that the benefit of doubt came down in favour of Simon Nutter. But, of course, I could be wrong.
      John Keegan

  3. Visiting Whittington several times a year I feel very sad that the Dragon is still empty. The building is falling into disrepair.
    It is my belief that behind every objection to progress lies an agenda. Could it be argued that Ms Manders sees the Dragon as a perfect base for her catering business? Just something to contemplate.

    1. I don’t think that this is a fair observation, particularly as it smacks of the same lack of evidence that characterises Kate Manders Planning Objection.

      I have received three telephone calls and two emails making exactly the same observation and I have dissuaded the people concerned from publishing their views on this Blog.

      If you would prefer me to remove, or modify your comment please email me: john.loynepark@btinternet.com.
      John Keegan

  4. All,

    Having just been on the planning website it looks like the council are looking to refuse the new planning application for the Dragons Head again. I would like to point out that having read the planning officers report this has nothing to do with Kate’s objection and in fairness she has as much right as anyone else to air her views, freedom of speech and all that. Anyway let see what happens now.

    There is a Village BBQ on Monday at the Village Hall, it is bring your own food, but lets get everyone together and bury our differences.

    1. Certainly Mrs Eleanor Fawcett is proposing the refusal of the application. What is significant in her report is that where there have been no objections, on this occasion, from the other parts of the authority, and therefore no reason to refuse this one. She has chosen to refer to objections on the two earlier applications, WHICH HAVE BEEN RECOGNISED AND CORRECTED, in the new application, but ignored by her. You are quite correct in saying that the Committee have ignored Kate’s objection, presumably on the grounds of relevance.

      I find Kate’s evidence offensive, for all the reasons mentioned above. Yes people have a right to their opinions but in a serious matter like this it should be evidence based and not merely rumour, supposition and innuendo and flying in the face of the actual plans in the application.

      John Keegan

  5. John,
    I did not say Kate’s objection was ignored I am sure it was considered but in reality the planning officer has continued to refuse it along the lines of the planning policies. My entry on the blog was to inform about the potential further refusal from the council not to continue a discussion on the right or wrongs of Kate’s comments.
    What I found quite sad was the state of the internal rooms of the Dragonshead in the photographs.
    To clarify myself and Simon viewed the pub just prior to it being accepted under offer from Simon Nutter. Different time and circumstances we would have gone for it, at that time it was habitable, clean and functionable but looking at it now it’s a mess maybe all that knocking about should have been left until planning was in place, it looks very unloved.

  6. John,
    I went to a very interesting input on mindfulness the other day, the speaker was inspired by a book called The Monk who sold a Ferrari. Heard of it?

    1. No. I’ll have a look on Amazon as I’ve just finished Spike Milligans Puckoon and Garry Jennings Aztec. I was reading both because Aztec is good but slow and Puckoon is funny and fast.

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