We’ve been working with the campaign to save the Rose Hill Tavern here in Brighton. The pub was suddenly put up for sale in March of last year and locals quickly got together to apply for Asset of Community Value (ACV)status. However, by the time Brighton Council made their decision to accept the ACV nomination, the pub had been sold to a local property developer.
The developer appealed the Council’s decision, first to the Council itself and, after that appeal failed, to the First Tier Tribunal.
A First Tier Tribunal is hearing in front of a Judge. The developers had their Barrister, the Council had theirs (as it was their decision being appealed) and then there was the Rose Hill Tavern Action Group and us. First, we wrote an argument outlining our case and then, about two months later, we headed up to London for the hearing. Five weeks later we got the result.
As the Judge was new, there was a fair bit of trepidation that he might set some new precedents about ACVs, but we needn’t have worried – the result was as expected and we won (or rather, the developers lost).
The Judge took the same view as his predecessors, that the legal test of whether an asset could be of future use isn’t one in which the nominators have to prove that it would be viable, just that it would be reasonable to imagine that it could be.
In the course of the judgement, the Judge went as far as to commend us, saying:
“I pay regard to the expertise demonstrated by Mr Boyle. I find that the group’s decision to concentrate on the planning aspects of its campaign to save the Rose Hill Tavern is not only understandable but demonstrates a degree of professionalism, which is likely to stand the group in good stead…”
The frustrating part of all this is that because we’ve been fighting appeals and planning applications, we’ve been unable to make any real plans.
On which score, the next battle. The developers are going to the Council next week to get planning permission to convert the pub into 2 flats. As daunting as the Tribunal was, it was only the side show…