On 20th June 2017 the Save The Dyke Group hosted a Community Meeting to discuss the planning application submitted by Martin Webb and Warrick Armsby-Ward to Brighton & Hove City Council. The plan is to redevelop the Dyke building into a combination of a shop, a small pub and 4 flats (see above). Read the full application – and add your own comments and objections – at http://bit.ly/BH201701917.

Summary of plans

  • Part change of use of ground floor from retail (A1) to public house (A4).
  • Enlargement of existing studio flat at first floor level using ancillary storage space to create one 1 bedroom flat (C3).
  • Roof alterations including removal of central chimney, dormers to east elevation, sash windows in north and east gables and rooflights generally, to facilitate creation of two flats (C3) in the roofspace.

What does this mean?

  • A wall will divide the ground floor. The left hand side of the pub, with all the windows, will remain as a shop (The Emporium). The bar will be removed on this side of the building.
  • The right hand side of the building will be a small ‘pub with pizza food service’, with a reduced size kitchen and limited windows. Plans also include building a disabled access toilet on the back of the pub, although no improvements for disabled access to the pub are shown in plans.
  • The pub garden will remain as A1 (retail) and be used, according to the plans, ‘for the display and sale of garden furniture and ornaments’ – there will be no public access to the garden from the pub.

Note that, even if planning permission is granted, a developer is not obliged to implement their plans.

The Save The Dyke Group hosted a Community Meeting (in the sweltering heat) at the Church of The Good Shepherd Hall on Tuesday 20th June to discuss the plans. Councillors Kevin Allen and Nick Taylor attended the meeting – other interested councillors were unfortunately unable to attend as they sit on the planning committee.

Martin Webb and Warrick Armsby-Ward were invited to attend the meeting to engage with the community, but declined – although they did respond to a Facebook comment to say they have ‘been busy speaking to as many people as we can locally’ about the plans. We asked both at the meeting and in the Save The Dyke Pub Facebook group if anyone had spoken to the owners about the plans, and have yet to hear from anyone who was asked for their thoughts or feedback.

The Meeting

Jo from the Save The Dyke Group introduced the meeting with a brief campaign history. Since the pub closed on 3 September 2016, the community has rallied round with a petition to save the pub from development, and a successful application for Asset of Community Value status to the Dyke building and garden. The successful ‘Save The Dyke Pub’ campaign played a part in the recent change in the law preventing pub owners from ‘doing a Dyke’ and converting to a shop overnight.

The Plans

Susie from the group went on to talk through the proposals for the Dyke, including the removal of a chimney and addition of roof lights and dormer windows – you can see the elevations and alterations in the gallery below.

There was also a reminder that in March, Martin Webb published these drawings of proposed townhouses on the pub garden (both in the Brighton Argus and in his own Facebook group ‘We want to reopen the Dyke this summer’).

Although the new planning application doesn’t include townhouses, Martin has stated in his Facebook group that ‘We’re not asking for permission to build houses at this stage but we’re not ruling that option for a future date.’ The Save The Dyke Pub group believe that if these initial plans are approved, plans for townhouses will follow. Residents of Old Mill Mews raised concerns at the meeting about the feasibility and safety of bringing construction materials for flats or houses along their small private road.

The Expert

Dale Ingram (Planning for Pubs) has been instructed by the Save The Dyke Group to draft a robust objection to the plan. Dale has specialised in pub planning for seven years, assisting 150 pub campaign groups and advising on 30 ACV registrations – when it comes to fighting developers, she has been extremely successful and every closed pub has reopened.

Dale knows of around 40 pub redevelopment projects where the developer has applied for consent to convert parts of the premises for alternative uses, usually residential, keeping a small part in use as a much smaller lock-up ‘pub unit’. This is in many instances a deliberate ploy to secure the development value of the site for non-pub uses first and then to return at a later date, having not let the pub, for a conversion of the retained pub area.  In many instances the applications are refused at council level or on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Such schemes are called “Trojan Horses”, an expression coined by a Planning Inspector in 2013 on an appeal for a scheme very similar to that at the Dyke. Whether deliberate or not, it is frequently recognised by the authorities that a smaller pub, with fewer facilities and with no opportunity to augment its business in future through diversification, is not going to remain viable as the community asset it previously was.

“Developers don’t really care whether you get a pub back or not… The problem is not that these smaller pubs open, and then fail, it’s that they never reopen at all. For all of you who are supportive of the idea of a smaller pub, we need to be really sure that pub is actually going to reopen. I have some concerns about whether any kind of pub use is actually going to be reinstated there… There’s no obligation, once granted, to implement any planning consent that you’re given.”

Dale will be studying the plans in depth next week and will provide a thorough breakdown of the reasons we can object to them. As soon as Dale’s formal objection has been submitted to the Council in early July, her recommendations will be communicated in our Facebook group and to our email list (so please do sign up here) so you will have guidance on how to object to the plans. In the meantime, please do comment with your thoughts on the Council’s planning portal – you can always add a more formal objection later on.

The Objective

The Save The Dyke group does not believe a small pub will work. The Dyke Pub was popular – and was awarded ACV status – due to its large size, making it welcoming for families, friends, individuals, community groups, diners, children and dogs. The proposed ‘New Dyke Pub’ will be small and dark with no garden, no outside smoking area – and a small kitchen serving pizza.

The objective of the Save The Dyke Pub group is to make it so difficult for Martin Webb to develop the pub that he is forced to sell it at a reasonable price, to someone who wants to run it as a full sized pub/restaurant and garden.

The Gingerman Restaurants group has expressed an interest, and we’re sure once Martin Webb’s asking price is more reasonable (between the £965,000 independent valuation as a pub and the £1.6million Webb believes the site is worth as a development opportunity) there will be many more interested parties. Of course, the offer of £965k from the Dyke Pub Preservation Society (to buy the pub as a community) still stands.

Can you help?

Restoring our fantastic local pub to its former glory won’t be an easy job, and we’ll need your help!

  • Add your comments to the planning application portal at http://bit.ly/BH201701917 (ideally before 4th July 2017). Objections must give a valid planning reason, so if you’re unsure what to write, you may prefer to wait until we have formal advice from Dale Ingram in early July.
  • Please speak to your neighbours and let them know about the plans.
  • We’re working on a newsletter to be distributed to local homes – can you help to deliver it?
  • Can you help to organise a fundraising event or donate a raffle prize?

Please email us or join our mailing list to be kept informed.