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These people own the highwayman...

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Parish:  Checkley                                                                        Registration:  23/12/04
Case Officer:  Mr. B. Hurst                                                         Grid Reference:  0398 4261
Location Plan


This is a full application for the conversion of the Highwayman Inn to form 10 residential units together with the formation of designated parking areas and the construction of two double garages.  The 10 units would consist of two 4 bed, six 2 bed, one 1 bed and one 3 bed dwelling.  The conversion would include some very limited extension work. Each of the dwellings would be provided with two car parking spaces and the four bed dwellings would each have a detached double garage. A small amenity area would be allocated to the frontage of each dwelling.  A landscaping scheme has also been submitted that would provide substantial planting to the external boundaries of the site.

The applicants agent has submitted a letter raising the following points:

1. The business at the currently vacant Highwayman had declined to a loss making business in its last few years.  The previous owner attempted to sell the business as a going concern and to promote its sale for alternative commercial use. 

2. Marketing exercises were unsuccessful and the premises were acquired in October 2004 by the applicant with a view to realising the potential of the site for residential use. The premises were put up for sale by the previous owner in mid November 2002. Specialist agents Guy Simmons carried out the national advertisement of the business and details were displayed on the internet.  Their commission ceased in May 2003.

3. From early May 2003 up until the end of October 2004 local estate agent Daniel and Hulme have been responsible for marketing.  It is the view of both estate agents that the poor interest shown is because the condition of the premises and the current state of the leisure industry. 

4. Despite an extensive marketing campaign conducted by two estate agents for a period of time from November 2002 up until October 2004 nearly two years in total, insufficient interest has been generated in the premises either as a going concern or for some alternative commercial use.  Therefore, it is considered that the principle of residential conversion is acceptable and in line with development plan policy. 

5. The building is capable of conversion without major changes to its appearance. However to maximise the use of the buildings potential and to provide more affordable units some change and adaptation of the main elevations has been necessary.  It is considered that the scheme would improve the general appearance of the property on the main eastern elevation in particular.  The development also accords more closely with the Councils recent policies to provide affordable housing for local people in rural areas and the applicants are prepared to accept a Local Occupancy condition for all of the residential units proposed.  The site lies on the Alton road equal distance between Cheadle and Alton and enjoys the benefit of a bus service twice daily. 

6. The application proposes a solution to the potential problems of this site in accordance with development plan policies for the conversion of rural buildings. If the premises were to remain vacant they would gradually deteriorate and become an eyesore in this pleasant rural landscape.  Additionally the scheme would provide a significant number of more affordable homes.


The site includes the Highwayman Inn, a vacant nightclub together with its car park. The building has been extended incrementally along a linear form that runs at right angles to Alton Road.  The site is located half way between Cheadle and Alton within a loose cluster of dwellings within the open countryside and Special Landscape Area. 

01/00245.  Residential development.  Refused


Alton Parish Council.  No objection

Cheadle Town Council.  No objection

Checkley Parish Council.  Support application, concern expressed over the proximity of the site access to Sandy Lane.

Local Highway Authority.  No objection subject to conditions covering access and parking.

Environment Agency.  No objection.  Advice provided on the provision of foul drainage.

Local Plans Manager.  Owing to the pubs location the principle of conversion is appropriate according to PPS 7.  The application post dates the adoption of the Council’s SPG on Affordable and Local Needs Housing.  Therefore a planning condition limiting the occupation of units to local persons would be required.


The application has been advertised with a site notice.  Five neighbours have been notified in writing.  Nine letters of representation have been received raising the following issues:



Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan.

N1.  Open countryside
N8.  Special Landscape Area.
B21.  Conversion of rural buildings.
T18.  Car parking provision.


1.    The Highwayman Inn is not located inside a Development Boundary. It is situated within an area of countryside designated as Special Landscape Area. While there is no specific Local Plan Policy aimed at retaining public houses within the countryside it is considered that as a vacant rural building Policy B21 of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan should apply. Policy B21 of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan makes provision for the conversion of rural buildings where proposals involve limited alteration and extension. The Policy recognises that residential conversions have the potential to harm the character of the rural building and the countryside environment within which they are situated and therefore, before a residential permission can be granted every reasonable attempt must have been made to first secure a suitable business reuse.

2.    The Highwayman Inn is unique in size and form.  Extended incrementally over the years its large complex shape consists of rooms of varying shapes and sizes that would limit the opportunity for alternative business uses.  Due to the size of the site and building and the relatively isolated location it appears as an anomaly within the District that, as a local landmark, has a significant impact on the appearance and quality of the surrounding environment.

3.    Policy B21 was conceived as an approach to farm buildings that normally have open interiors that could lend themselves to a range of different business uses.  The Highwayman is essentially a large public house that will have at some time provided an element of holiday accommodation but has most recently been used as a nightclub. Given the type of building it is difficult to imagine anything other than leisure uses occupying the building.  Consequently the applicant has attempted to market the building as both an ongoing concern and as an opportunity for alternative business uses.  Evidence indicated that the building was subject to an extensive marketing campaign conducted by two estate agents for a period of time from November 2002 up until October 2004.  The building has been advertised both nationally and regionally. The property has been displayed on the internet, in newspapers and mailshots have been sent to other leisure businesses within the surrounding area.  Also, a large sale board has been erected on the roadside verge.  Despite these efforts the exercise has not generated any serious interest. 

4.    On this basis, it would be reasonable to conclude that the applicant has made every reasonable attempt to secure a suitable business reuse at the property and that now under the terms of Policy B21 it is now appropriate to consider the possibility of a residential conversion.  The application post dates the adoption of the Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance on Affordable and Local Needs Housing and with this in mind the applicant has proposed the formation of 10 smaller more affordable dwellings.  The applicant has also confirmed that he is agreeable to a planning condition that would limit the subsequent occupation of the units to persons qualifying under the Council’s criteria of local need. 

5.    The considerations of PPS 7 are particularly important to this case.  Generally the reuse of buildings is supported in appropriate, sustainable locations.  The difficulty here, however, is that the Highwayman site would perhaps not normally qualify as being a sustainable location for residential development.  There are no facilities such as shops schools or services within walking distance and the residents would almost certainly be dependent on the car to make trips to Alton and Cheadle.  However, it is considered that if this sizeable site were occupied as a hotel, a use that would be entirely appropriate within policy terms, it would create vehicular movements and activity that would be comparable to that of the residential proposal.  Therefore, residential use on the site although not ideally located would not be any more damaging to the environment than if the site was used as a hotel.  As the applicant has demonstrated a convincing attempt to secure a future business use without success it is now considered acceptable to consider a residential use.

6.    The other alternative would be to take the bold decision that this site is not suitable for any reuse and that it should remain vacant and be left for dereliction.  However, this is not considered to be a desirable option.  The building is of a significant size and has a considerable impact on the appearance and quality of the environment in this area of countryside and Special Landscape Area.  Dereliction of the site and building would lead to an intolerable detriment to the quality of the environment. Changes to the external appearance of the building have been kept to a minimum with this conversion proposal.  The residential dwellings would be formed within the strict confines of the existing building and some very limited marginal extension would bring about an improvement and coordination to the appearance of the building. The applicant has also submitted a landscaping scheme that seeks to increase screening along the sites western boundary that flanks Sandy Lane and the adjacent dwelling.

7.    The site would be accessed via two access driveways.  The first would use the existing car park access while the second would form a new access point that would run between Sandy Lane and the building’s west elevation.  Alton/Ashbourne Road at this point has a straight open character and visibility is considered to be good.  The Highway Authority has no objection to this access arrangement.  Apart from the two 4 bedroom dwellings, which would be provided with sizable gardens, private driveways and a double garage, each of the dwellings would be allocated two parking spaces. This is considered to be an acceptable level of parking provision given the number of bedrooms and it accords with the Council’s Car Parking standards.

8.    The dwellings would have only a front aspect.  Each of the dwellings would have a 5m depth of amenity space to their frontages. While normally The Council’s Space About Dwellings guidance would require rear gardens to have 11m of depth, a relaxation is considered tolerable given the constraints involved in providing a conversion scheme.

9.    In conclusion it is considered that this residential proposal would provide a solution to a large problematic site within the District, with only limited impact on the appearance and quality of the environment.  As such, it is recommended that this proposal be permitted.


The planning permission be granted subject to the following conditions:

1.    The development hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.

Reason:-  To comply with Section 91(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

2.    The development hereby permitted shall not be commenced until samples of types and colours of all roof tiles, facing materials and hard surfaces have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The development shall thereafter be carried out in accordance with the approved details.

Reason:-  To ensure that the external appearance of the development is satisfactory.


Reason:-  In the interest of highway safety and to comply with Staffordshire County Council requirements for access.

4.    The development hereby permitted shall not be brought into use until the access, turning space and parking facilities shown on the approved plan have been properly consolidated, surfaced, drained and otherwise constructed in accordance with details which shall previously have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority and these areas shall thereafter be retained and kept available for those uses at all times.

Reason:-  In the interests of highway safety and to ensure the free flow of traffic using the adjoining highway.

5.    Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (or any order revoking and re-enacting that order with or without modification), no development as specified in Part 1 Class(es) A, B, C, D, E, F, and G and/or Part 2 Class(es) A, B,  and C, other than those expressly authorised by this permission, shall be carried out without express planning permission first being obtained from the Local Planning Authority.

Reason:-  To enable the Local Planning Authority to control the development and so safeguard the character and visual amenities of the area, and to ensure that adequate private open space is retained within the curtilage of the building.

6.    The development hereby permitted shall not be commenced until details of all walls, fences and other means of enclosure have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The approved details shall be completed prior to the occupation of any of the buildings on the site.

Reason:-  To provide adequate privacy and an acceptable external appearance.

7.    The development hereby permitted shall not be commenced until detailed plans and sections of the proposed windows and doors at a scale of 1:20 together with details of proposed finishes have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details.

Reason:-  To protect and enhance the appearance of the building and the area.

8.    The dwelling hereby permitted shall not be occupied, nor shall each subsequent new occupation be undertaken until such time as it has been demonstrated in writing to the Local Planning Authority, and such written consent has been provided, that occupation of the dwelling will satisfy the following local occupancy criteria from the Supplementary Planning Guidance on Affordable Housing for Local People by meeting at least one of the following criteria:


Reason:-  In order to achieve and maintain in perpetuity local needs housing in circumstances where planning permission would otherwise be refused.



The policies taken into account in the determination of this application are as follows: Policies N1, N8, B21 of The Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan and PPS 7. The proposal is acceptable in land use terms, secures the reuse of the Highwayman Inn and is acceptable in terms of its impact on the environment.