Travellers move onto vacant A505 pub site

09:58 03 May 2012

The derelict pub on the A505. Photo by Keith Dobney

The derelict pub on the A505. Photo by Keith Dobney

Archant

TRAVELLERS have moved on to land behind a derelict pub weeks after a planning application to convert it into a 70-room budget hotel were lodged.

Three caravans moved on to land to the rear of the Horse and Groom pub on the A505 and have been encamped for 12 days.

As the land is privately owned there is nothing South Cambs District Council can do to evict them but the owner Stuart Findlay has asked bailiffs to remove them.

“I don’t think it will affect the planning application due to the length of the planning process and certainly the building work,” he said.

“But there is always a risk they will return as it is a big two acre site and there is a good hard surface. There is always a temptation for our traveller friends to set up.

“Obviously I’m very worried about it but we just have to hope that South Cambs will allow us to build the budget hotel on the site.”

Mr Findlay also expressed concern about the safety of the travellers leaving the site as the entrance leads on to a 70mph road and the sight line is blocked by the pub.

If approved his plan for the site would see a new Ibis hotel built back from the road and would also incorporate a large car park, conference rooms and a restaurant.

This is the third time Mr Findlay has tried to build a hotel on the site with the district council blocking previous efforts in 2006 and 2007 to develop the pub which has sat empty for more than six years.

However , permission for a restaurant was granted in 2009 but the businessman wants to build a hotel and feels there is a need in Crow country.

The planning application is being put forward in association with Beacon Planning.

Charmain Hawkins, an associate of the firm, said: “Those with business and civic interests in Royston and the surrounding area were supportive of a new amenity which will not only bring additional employment opportunities to the area but which will also provide much-needed hotel accommodation for travellers en route across the area’s busy network of road connections.

“We’re confident that a hotel is the type of suitable development of the site as it will serve a range of local needs.”

The planning application is being considered by SCDC with a decision expected in the summer.

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