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Stop ‘bullying and harassing us’ says publican who wants to demolish Fenland pub

Feelings running high over demolition threat to village pub near Whittlesey

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Publican Tim Fletcher hit back at ‘people who we have never met, served or even visited the pub’ trying to stop him from demolishing The Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey to build five homes. In a letter to Fenland District Council – who are considering his planning application – Mr Fletcher accused critics of bullying and harassing both him and his wife Mel.

The letter has been published by the council as part of the public consultation, which is attracting dozens of responses, some critical, some supportive.

“Having people whom we have never met/ served/ or even visited the pub bullying and harassing us is just not acceptable to have comments put on here,” he wrote.

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“Which I do hope the planning take into consideration.”

Mr Fletcher wrote: “My wife and I have for 21 years worked very hard keeping a pub in the village.

“Always part of the community, employing village residents supplying jobs. After 4 years of trying to sell the property, losing money year after year we cannot carry on no more”.

Part of the letter has been blanked out, but it preceded reference to the reason the couple want to sell up now and “look forward to retirement.

“Customers have dwindled but we have always stated times when we were open on our social media platforms”.

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA). Like many pubs the Three Horseshoes allows it car park to be used for mobile catering units.

He added: “I was the chef as I did not take a wage so we could keep the kitchen going. “It’s easy for people to say put chefs/ managers in but there was no money to pay for this.

“In hindsight perhaps we should have closed in Covid. But we persevered so customers could still meet up in their community and see their friends.”

Documents lodged with Fenland Council show the pub was advertised for three years and six months by daveyco in February 2020 with a guide price of £350,000.

Fenland Council published on its planning portal a copy of the sales particular showing the Three Horseshoes being offered for sale for £350,000 or offers. There were no takers for it says the company who marketed the pub.

Fenland Council published on its planning portal a copy of the sales particular showing the Three Horseshoes being offered for sale for £350,000 or offers. There were no takers for it says the company who marketed the pub.

The marketing company was “continually matched and mailed” via their national database and discussions were held with 185 different prospective buyers.

It had also been advertised via the trade website of the Morning Advertiser and the sales particulars had been downloaded nearly 1,000 times. 

Additionally there had been 37 site visits.

The company says that from the feedback all agreed that given its location, viability was the issue.

“The area is sparsely populated and a relatively poor demographic unit with very limited ‘walk to’ resident trade,” says daveyco. There is no “meaningful non-resident” passing trade.

The company added: “The market response has been that the level of existing trade is considered insufficient to sustain a worthwhile business with extremely limited growth potential given the specifics of the location”.

One of the letters objecting to the couple’s proposals is from a “middle aged ‘born and bred’ resident.

“I’d be extremely disappointed should the village no longer have a local pub.

“I am personally pro development, being employed in the construction and civil engineering industries and having personally built houses. I see the benefit new housing brings to areas whether direct or indirect and would welcome more provision to Turves.”

The resident goes on to explain that if the application is approved based on proven planning policies “then so be it.

“Should, however, the decision be influenced by the current viability of the existing business, I do feel this needs reviewing.

“Whilst the current outlook for pubs and restaurants is well documented, I travel most weeks with my family for a meal and drink out and feel Three Horseshoes could well be more than viable.

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“Admittedly I haven’t been to the Three Horseshoes for over a year, which closes around 20:00 which doesn’t suit my preferences, which also includes no longer serving food. Instead, friends, family and I have our socials elsewhere.

“I used to ‘support’ the pub weekly. Previously on various occasions when The Three Horseshoes was serving food, I tried booking tables for the family for 12-16 people, however, was turned away due to the numbers being too large.

Part of the letter sent to Fenland District Council by the Campaign for Pubs. They argue strongly for the Three Horseshoes to remain a pub

Part of the letter sent to Fenland District Council by the Campaign for Pubs. They argue strongly for the Three Horseshoes to remain a pub

“Other pubs and restaurants were more than happy to welcome our business.

“Finally, as a family we were informed the pub was for sale prior to this current planning application, however, was also requested not to publicise this information.

“The decline of The Three Horseshoes, viability of business and subsequent application to demolish could be construed to be a manufactured series of events or a sad, very unfortunate series of events.

“I’ve found submitting this objection morally difficult as I know the current owners and family well (having grown up in the village with them, myself and parents attending the same schools and being of similar ages).

“Whatever the decision to this application I wish every best to the current owners in their next chapter(s)”.

Another Turves resident told the council: “I’ve been going to the Three Horseshoes for 30 years and will be sad to see it go but understand the personal circumstances why and wish Tim, Mel, and family all the best.

“If no one is willing to buy the pub then I support the application to build much needed houses instead.”

Strength of feelings are running high – and includes this from a March resident.

He told planners: “I used to cycle with my friends to the Three Horseshoes. Was an excellent pub. But now made uncomfortable if we go. Or it’s not open.

“I don’t think the owners want customers. They want to sell for the big buck and scram.

“The people of Turves did use this pub. I have made many good friends there. I’m hoping that this application is turned down and the pub put on the market.

“A new owner would thrive, many people for many miles would come to the Three Horseshoes. A couple of friends are train spotters. And used to use the pub. Again, these have been made uncomfortable.

“I think the pub has been deliberately run down so they can say there is no call for this community hub. The restaurant was brilliant. Cyclists would stop. Locals and people passing by. On several occasions I’ve been for fireworks. Was packed.

“The pub is an asset to Turves. With the defibrillator and polling station. Also, as a meeting space.

“It’s a landmark. A community hub. And by losing it, Turves will lose out. Let it be sold as a pub if they want to leave.”

One recent move to keep the pub has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

It has been set up by “community activists in response to the demolition
threat to our local pub, the Three Horseshoes.

We aim to preserve, conserve, and improve the environment and facilities in Turves and district. We pay a lot of money in Council Tax and see very little back, so we need to redress the balance”.

It says that “the threat to demolish the only community assert we have has resulted in the TDRA being formed to highlight that the pub has, in our view, been deliberately neglected so that a case can be made for its demolition”.

You can keep up to date on the public’s responses by checking the Fenland Council website and going to planning applications.

FENLAND DISTRICT COUNCIL PLANNING PORTAL: F/YR24/0145/O | Erect up to 5 x dwellings (outline application with matters committed in respect of access) involving the demolition of existing Public House | The Three Horseshoes 344 March Road Turves Peterborough Cambridgeshire PE7 2DN

 

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