Both sides reflect on public inquiry to determine Reed pub’s future

The Cabinet at Reed. Picture: Archant

The Cabinet at Reed. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The public inquiry into whether Reed’s only pub should be turned permanently into a house concluded on Wednesday last week, and now pub supporters and the current owner have reflected on the three-day hearing.

The inquiry has come about as the owner of Grade II-listed Cabinet pub is seeking to overturn the decision of North Herts District Council last year to refuse retrospective planning permission for change of use.

The pub closed in 2011 and was put up for sale. Retrospective applications for planning and listed building consent were submitted in September 2016. Planning permission for change of use was refused in July 2017.

The inquiry, presided over by planning inspector David Murray, was heard from Tuesday to Thursday last week at the North Herts District Council offices in Letchworth, and was attended by Save the Cabinet Action Group and The Cabinet’s owner, property developer Richard Newman, among others. Speaking after the inquiry, group chair Mike Howes said: “We think our lawyers, experts and witnesses all did a good job and made a strong case – but we’re not going to tempt fate by predicting the result.

“If the appeal is dismissed, as we hope it will be, we’ll be looking to North Herts District Council to take immediate and effective enforcement action – as local authorities around the country have done in similar cases – to protect the property from further damage and enable it to be restored as a pub for the benefit of the community.”

When asked about how he thought the inquiry went, current owner Richard Newman told the Crow: “I haven’t got a clue how it went.

“I attended for the three days and you listen to the solicitor and the planners and the policy makers – it’s all about policy now, it’s about the government and the legislation they set out.

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“I thought everything was above board because I got recommendations from planning at NHDC, but it’s for the planning inspector to make the decision on now.

“I’ve made it my home and I hope to carry on there. If the appeal is dismissed do I stay or open it as a pub? I don’t know.”

The target date for the decision to be made by the inspector is December 21.