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Publican/restaurateur John McGinn has closed his award-winning Cambridgeshire riverside pub, the Dog in a Doublet.

“Best go out on a high,” said Mr McGinn who with his wife Della has run the pub at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years.

The pub is closed and  staff laid off, although the McGinns remain living in their nearby bungalow home.

“Best go out on a high,” says John McGinn who with his wife Della has run the Dog in a Doublet at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“Best go out on a high,” says John McGinn who with his wife Della has run the Dog in a Doublet at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years.
PHOTO: Terry Harris“The couple took a lease on the boarded up pub and over the following decade turned it into a destination pub/restaurant for thousands.

By adding rooms, they built a reputation for weekend breaks and ‘get aways’ that regularly won praise on TripAdvisor.

“Best go out on a high,” says John McGinn who with his wife Della has run the Dog in a Doublet at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years.
PHOTO: Terry Harris

One recent review described it as having “great food, with friendly staff excellent service and a choice of Asian food. “We have visited here before, but the standard has risen, and the surroundings upgraded”.

Another satisfied customer wrote: “Second stay here. Never disappoints. Quirky, lovely family room. Spotless and roomy. Great facilities. Continental breccy very good with ample choice.

“The management go above and beyond to please. Our dog is welcome too.”

Mr McGinn says a recent planning dispute with Peterborough City Council over improvements made to the Dog in a Doublet did not influence his decision to close.

But clearly, with the threat of possible enforcement action and outstanding issues over a damaged cesspit and the cost of repairing it, there were problems ahead for Mr McGinn if he remained.

Pictured John McGinn (left) enjoys a pint with mates and punters in the pool he build.
John McGinn, landlord of the Dog in a Doublet installs swimming pool for punters to stay cool in the heat and feel like they’re abroad.,
Whittlesey, Peterborough
Saturday 23 July 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“In reality the social and economic climate has changed,” he said.

“If I had stayed, we faced stress in running the business and especially in recruiting staff to run it. In many ways it is a good thing we are leaving.”

Mr McGinn took over the Dog in a Doublet after approaching the owner of a small chain of local pubs and agreeing terms to lease it.

A deal was struck that involved him renting the premises and re-opening the Dog in a Doublet that closed following the recession of 2008.

Seating and decked area adjacent to the main building

“It was the right price and throughout we had a fantastic relationship with the owner,” said Mr McGinn.

“He left us alone, we left him alone,” says McGinn of the owner. “He told us he would support us in whatever it took to turn the place round.”

Platform seating area Erected for Covid 19 compliance

Prior to lockdown, the McGinns say they were in talks with the owner about their future at the pub. However nine months ago the owner died.

Chef/proprietor John McGinn (right) who built a swimming pool and carried out huge improvements to his Dog and Doublet gastro pub/hotel near Whittlesey has fallen foul of planners. He carried out the works without planning consent – a retrospective application has been refused.
Picture by Terry Harris.In recent months, and faced with enforcement threat by Peterborough City, and the staffing issues referred to earlier, he decided it was then the moment to quit.

John McGinn Landlord of the Dog in a Doublet installs swimming pool for punters to stay cool in the heat and feel like they’re abroad.,
Whittlesey, Peterborough
Saturday 23 July 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.He said he and his wife would stay in their bungalow next door.

“Lots of jobs have now gone, my staff are in tears and absolutely devastated and my wife, who is already ill, is now having to deal with all this stress,” he said.”

But the McGinns are leaving with no regrets about his decision.

“We are looking forward to my daughter having our first grandchild and we are also both looking forward to a rest,” he said.

Mr McGinn said he had already been offered jobs but for now simply wanted a short break.

The former BBC MasterChef contestant extended his country pub/restaurant with outside seating, a swimming pool, and turned a horsebox and log cabin into accommodation but, as we reported earlier, did so without planning permission.

Mr McGinn also created an outdoor kitchen, built a gym, and turned a function room into four bedrooms.

The family run company that owns the Dog in a Doublet are currently meeting with their legal and financial advisers to discuss the way forward.

Chef/proprietor John McGinn who built a swimming pool and carried out huge improvements to his Dog and Doublet gastro pub/hotel near Whittlesey has fallen foul of planners. He carried out the works without planning consent – a retrospective application has been refused.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“The business is well established and operating and should be supported to expand and grow in a struggling industry in these periods of economic downturn, cost of living and Covid 19 recovery,” his agent Matt Taylor told planners.

But Peterborough City Council believes otherwise and sent Mr McGinn notification that his retrospective application for had been rejected.

The council said Mr McGinn had failed to satisfy planning laws.

The full application included permission for ancillary accommodation, a guest log cabin, a converted horsebox to guest room and a residential chalet.

It also included a swimming pool with raised deck, gym, outdoor kitchen, and external decked/raised seating area to the east -all of it retrospective.

His agent told the city council that Mr McGinn and his family had changed “what was a derelict building to a beautiful and well-respected establishment in the area”.

Chef/proprietor John McGinn who built a swimming pool and carried out huge improvements to his Dog and Doublet gastro pub/hotel near Whittlesey has fallen foul of planners. He carried out the works without planning consent – a retrospective application has been refused.
Picture by Terry Harris.

He said there was some additional parking on the highway opposite the site.

“The site also has a large above ground swimming pool for the use of hotel guests,” he said.

“The site is within flood zone 1, this is purely a change of use application we have included a flood risk assessment for the application.”

Peterborough City Council says the proposed ancillary accommodation of nine guest bedrooms, “compromises the existing community facility by taking away the existing residential accommodation within the public house”.

It adds: “No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that on site accommodation is no longer required for the operational manager of the business.

“Therefore, it is considered the need is still present and required as per the license.

“Best go out on a high,” says John McGinn who with his wife Della has run the Dog in a Doublet at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years.
PHOTO: Terry Harris

“The proposal results in overdevelopment and as such the expansion would adversely affect this local community facility.”

City planners say the application fails to be supported by a business plan or any justification for the new accommodation of the log cabin and converted horsebox.

“There is a degree of separation from the main building and as such these have a degree of independence from the host building,” says their report.

“In addition, the location of the horsebox extends beyond the public house site boundaries and encroaches into the countryside.

“Insufficient information has been received to determine the whether the proposal has delivered sufficient parking provision.

“As such an assessment cannot be carried to determine whether this is appropriate for the pub/restaurant and the ancillary accommodation of the nine guest rooms and the residential chalet”

Planners said the flood risk assessment submitted in support of the application fails to demonstrate appropriate flood risk mitigation and evacuation for the five rooms at the basement level of the building.

“Due to the lack of internal connection to the main pub/restaurant, guests would be forced to use an escape route through the car park and some of the lowest parts of the site,” says the planners report.

It says the development is not appropriately flood resistant or resilient, “nor have safe access and escape routes been demonstrated”.

“The log cabin and hot tub change the nature of the use and most likely the intensity, establishing a greater probability of the area being used all year.

 

“Best go out on a high,” says John McGinn who with his wife Della has run the Dog in a Doublet at North Bank near Whittlesey for the past 12 years.

It adds: “The swimming pool with associated deck and events raises unacceptable amenity impacts to all three surrounding residential properties due to noise and disturbance.

“Furthermore, the gazebos are closely related to the two adjacent bungalows and the open side nature of the structures provides no mitigation for noise and disturbance.

“Therefore, the proposal results in unacceptable amenity impacts. The horsebox, log cabin and residential chalet along with the ancillary development of the swimming pool and wooden gazebos unacceptably change the character of the area.

“This proposals result in a level of urbanisation which is detrimental to the openness of countryside.

“The scale, location and appearance of the development is visually prominent and fails to be compatible with the rural location or enhance the character of the landscape.

AWARD WINNER: 1st Place Dog in the Doublet Pictured left to right. Bruce Ingle, John McDinn, Della McDinn,
Whittlesey, Peterborough
27/08/2019.
Picture by Terry Harris / Peterborough Telegraph.

“All aspects of the development contribute to a cumulative overdevelopment of the site and fail to respect the context appropriately.”

The Environment Agency set out some concerns in relation to the use of non mains foul drainage “which remains in place.

“In addition to that objection in the absence of an acceptable flood risk assessment (FRA) we object to this application and recommend that planning permission is refused”.

The FRA submitted “does not comply with the requirements for site-specific flood risk assessments”.

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