The bid to save the Valiant Trooper pub in Aldbury hit national headlines recently.
While work on the historic pub continues to create a pub, cafe, farm shop and dwellings, local residents, the Chiltern Society and real ale campaign group CAMRA are opposing the plan, amid fears that the village pub will eventually be lost and the site turned into housing.
Campaigners have also been angered by the works carried out at the site before listed buildings consent had been approved, which resulted in Dacorum Borough Council issuing a formal warning for breaking planning laws.
According to the Chiltern Society: ‘The change of use retains the pub but effectively reduces its size by converting the restaurant to a shop which could be operated independently of the pub. This is the trojan horse tactic – the retention of the pub increases the likelihood of the application’s success but its reduced size increases its chance of failure. Once the reduced pub fails a new application is made for change of use to residential.
‘Whilst we fully support necessary repairs to the fabric of the building, we are extremely concerned that the pub may be reduced in size to the extent that it would become non-viable. To that extent the pub and the restaurant must be able to function as a single space.’
A report commissioned by the site’s owners as part of the planning application found that the pub would be unviable as a traditional food and drink pub.
Campaigner Erica Vilkauls claims the report is flawed, and villagers have now commissioned a viability report of their own, in a bid to show that the Valiant Trooper can survive as a traditional pub.
Dacorum Borough Council stated: ‘Whilst the Council notes the concerns of some local residents, it is important to note that there has been no planning application seeking to cease the pub use within the building. Indeed to the contrary a new bar and basement pumping facility has been installed.’
Post Script: Since publishing the article in the Tring Living Spring issue (Issue 63 Spring 2023), we have been contacted by the owner of the pub. Mr Poulson states, “It certainly doesn’t look like a house to me, and if that was really our plan, we would have simply left the pub shut and not refurbished it to such a high standard. “