An ongoing battle to save a village pub has entered a new phase as the threat of demolition is renewed.
The future of the Black Swan, on Trap Street in Lower Withington, still remains uncertain, despite a long campaign by village residents to save it.
The pub, which closed in April 2016, has been subject to several proposals which would see the existing building demolished and replaced with private houses.
An initial application that proposed five houses was withdrawn and replaced with an application that proposed three houses.
The existing building was recently granted ‘Asset of Community Value’(ACV) status after a successful campaign by the Friends of the Black Swan group. But the property’s current owners have appealed to a tribunal, where a judge will decide on whether the status has been lawfully applied by Cheshire East Council.
The ACV status is given to buildings which are deemed to be important to the community and requires developers to meet strict criteria if they wish to demolish or re-purpose the property.
Tim Pearson, from Friends of the Black Swan, said: “It’s with the lawyers now. We’re grateful for Cheshire East Council’s continued support and have always believed we put together a strong, well-documented case.
“They claim the pub is unviable and should be demolished. We challenge that view. The Swan has always been a popular destination of choice and we’re convinced it can be again.”
Tim argues that other, new developments in the area mean that there are more people who would enjoy a country pub on the current site, which, prior to closure, had been trading since 1755.
Hundreds of objections to the revised plans have been lodged on the council’s planning portal.
Mrs Fionnuala Keen, of Woodhouse Farm, said: “Removing this lovely historic pub would be detrimental to the current and future wellbeing of the local and wider community.”
Mr David Morrow, of Harrop Green, said: “Most importantly, the application’s proposal to demolish the 250-year-old Black Swan would rip the heart out of the Lower Withington community.”
The challenge to the ACV will be decided by a tribunal judge at a lower-tier tribunal, that mainly deals with workplace disputes or appeals against council decisions.
The deadline for interested parties to provide the tribunal with their responses is February 5.
The last date for submitting comments on the planning application is Wednesday, January 17 and a decision is expected by February 9.
The application can be viewed on Cheshire East Council's planning portal, using the reference: 17/6356M